- Adam Henrique continued a streak of excellent play with a backhander off of some great passing from Reid Boucher and Michael Ryder at 11:37 into the first. This gave Henrique his second goal in as many games, and eight on the season.
- Frans Nielsen and line mates Kyle Okposo and Thomas Vanek were relentless in their pressure of the Devils' D, and were rewarded for their gritty play with the tying goal at 10:31 in the third. The goal was Nielsen's 13th of the year.
- Travis Zajac was the unintentional recipient of the Devils' go-ahead goal as Marek Zidlicky bounced a shot off of Frans Nielsen, and off Zajac's upper-chest, and in. A scary moment for the team as Zajac went down after the high shot, but he was back on the ice moments later. Travis paid a heavy price for it, but the deflection gave him his 7th goal of the season.
New Jersey went into the Nassau Coliseum and came out winning by the skin of their teeth. The Devils were tired out after last night's overtime effort and could have given this one away several times. You've gotta believe that things could have been different had John Tavares been on the ice for the Islanders. But, in the end a little bit of luck and an outstanding performance by Corey Schneider brings home points 39 and 40 and brings the team back to NHL .500.
You really can't say enough about the performance of Corey Schneider tonight. Again, the Devils failed to post a great offensive night in front of him, and didn't put together their best defensive showing either. Your typical goalie could have been beaten up by the 31 shot effort that the Islanders put together tonight, but obviously Schneider is anything but typical. Stopping everything but a deflected shot, Schneider had the answer for everything that the Isles threw his way. Some credit has to go to Evgeni Nabokov as well, as for a while he seemed every bit a match for the Devils. But tonight, Schneider was special, and put together one heck of an audition tape as he makes his case to be the starter for team USA in Sochi, Russia.
Coming into the game, all the focus was on the returning Bryce Salvador, and, for the most part, the Captain did not disappoint. I stated in the Primer that coach Pete DeBoer would be cautious and use the veteran defender sparingly in first game back, and I could not have been more wrong. Sal logged over 23 minutes of ice-time with partner Marek Zidlicky and looked strong and comfortable for 99% of it. He'll catch some flak for the turnover that lead to the tying goal from Frans Nielsen, but that's not giving enough credit to the skill Thomas Vanek displayed snatching that puck out of the air and starting that scoring play. That wasn't Sal giving one away, but Vanek making something happen.
Offensively, the heroes of this game for New Jersey were Adam Henrique and Jaromir Jagr. Adam Henrique has been one of the better players in red for a while now, but has had no puck-luck at all. It got so bad that his Christmas present from his family was a horseshoe for good luck. Seems like it might have helped as the young forward has two goals in the two games since the holiday break. Of course, it could also be that he's been playing at center for those two games, where he seems far more comfortable. And then there's #68 who continues to do everything right. A lot will be said about how lucky the Devils' second goal was, and it's hard to completely disagree, but that doesn't take into account the fantastic effort by Jagr to maintain possession and create time and space for the eventual shooter and scorer, Marek Zidlicky and Travis Zajac, to get into position. Lucky bounce? Maybe, but that goal doesn't happen at all without Jaromir Jagr. And, of course, let's give a little bit of credit to Travis Zajac, who took a blast from Marek Zidlicky to put in that last goal. That shot was so hard that it deflected off Nielsen first, before sending Zajac to the ice and still finding it's way into the net. Travis took one for the team and will feel that one for a while, but I'm sure the victory makes it easier to take.