Can the New Jersey Devils play like this at home? The Devils (22-21-10) defeat the Columbus Blue Jackets (33-13-5) in a convincing 5-1 victory in their first of four meetings this season. They have now won their last six road games and are 8-0-1 in their last nine. Cory Schneider (16-15-8) was lights out tonight and made huge saves against a very high-powered offense. He stopped 31 of 32 shots faced and posted a .969 save percentage. His goals against average is now 2.71 and his overall save percentage is .911. He is looking like the Top 5 goaltender he is and will have to be going forward if the team has any hopes of making the playoffs.
The Devils did get goals from four different players tonight. Taylor Hall scored twice, one to get the team on the board and an empty-netter to seal the win, and led the team in shots on goal with eight. He now has 13 goals on the season and sits just one behind team leaders Kyle Palmieri and Adam Henrique. Travis Zajac scored his 10th of the season to end his nine-game scoring drought. Hall (two goals), Zajac (a goal and an assist), and Henrique (a pair of assists) all had two-point nights. Jacob Josefson and Seth Helgeson also tallied goals: Josefson had his first of the season and Helgeson had the first goal of his NHL career (unless it gets changed).
Zajac’s goal was a power play goal and the Devils went 1/2 on the night. Their power play has gotten significantly better over the last couple of games. They killed both Columbus power plays, which is the best in the league. The Devils were able to control the puck on the penalty kill and spend more time out of their zone than in it. They did give up a shorthanded goal, their 7th of the season but that second power play was a mess overall.
Columbus’s initial goal was overturned; Coach Hynes challenged the call for goaltender interference and after that, the boo birds were out in full force. However, we did have to hear their cannon two more times than I would have liked to. And if the call did stand, we would have heard it three times. Nationwide Arena’s DJ is fantastic though, I’ll give them that.
Overall, the team played a very physical, aggressive game. Palmieri is going to antagonize every team’s goaltender by the end of the season and I’m here for it. The Devils had more scrums tonight than they’ve had in awhile. Helgeson had a scrap with Scott Hartnell and his energy was fun to watch. The team was buzzing all night long and managed to play for almost a full 60 minutes. The score definitely didn’t depict just how close the game was but it genuinely could have gone either way.
I don’t know what this team is doing differently on the road than at home but they’re not going anywhere if they can’t win at The Rock. The Devils will be back in action Monday night against the Buffalo Sabres in their last game before the bye week; puck drops at 7PM.