(SportsNetwork.com) – It took over a year and a half to do it, but the New
Jersey Devils finally broke through with a shootout victory.
The Devils hope to build off Thursday’s win when they welcome the Columbus
Blue Jackets in Saturday’s Metropolitan Division clash at Prudential Center.
Jacob Josefson ended the Devils’ NHL-record string of 18 consecutive shootout
losses, beating Winnipeg’s Ondrej Pavelec with a head fake for New Jersey’s
first SO win since March 10, 2013, also against the Jets.
The club’s breakaway woes loomed large last season when the Devils finished
only five points out of a playoff spot while losing all 13 of its shootouts.
The 2-1 win over the Jets also marked New Jersey’s first home win of 2014-15,
as it improved to 1-1-2 as the host.
“It was our first home win of the season, and first shootout win in what feels
like 10 years,” said Devils head coach Peter DeBoer. “So we got a couple
monkeys off our back and can move forward; it was a big two points.”
Josefson was the second shooter for New Jersey in the decisive phase of
Thursday’s game. After Damien Brunner hit the post for the Devils on their
first attempt, Josefson’s fake sent Pavelec to the ice and gave him plenty of
net to shoot at and the 23-year-old Swede calmly wristed the puck over
Winnipeg’s netminder for the lead.
“It was a classic head fake,” Josefson said of his winner. “I went to the side
and just tried to get it up.”
Devils goaltender Cory Schneider followed Josefson’s tally by stopping both
Andrew Ladd and Bryan Little to get Jersey an elusive shootout victory.
Michael Ryder tied the game with 3:27 remaining in regulation, and Schneider
made 24 saves through overtime. Schneider will get the call in net on Saturday
and is 7-2-1 with a 2.05 goals against average in 10 career games against
The Devils will close their three-game homestand Tuesday when St. Louis visits
The Blue Jackets are hoping for a win tonight after losing their fourth
straight games in regulation on Friday.
Columbus has been plagued by injuries in the early going and the ailments are
clearly affecting the club on the ice. The Blues Jackets have played the whole
season so far without forwards Brandon Dubinsky, Nathan Horton and Boone
Jenner and top goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky recently went down with a fractured
finger. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg for the Jackets, as Artem
Anisimov, Matt Calvert, Mark Letestu and James Wisniewski are also among
Columbus’ walking wounded.
The injury list could be even longer tonight as forward Corey Tropp is
questionable for Saturday with an illness.
The hobbled Blue Jackets hosted Toronto on Friday and were dealt a 4-1 setback
by the Maple Leafs. Phil Kessel and Daniel Winnik both had a goal and two
assists to allow Toronto to breeze past Columbus at Nationwide Arena.
Curtis McElhinney allowed four goals on 27 shots as Columbus lost for the
sixth time in eight games since beginning the season 2-0.
“We didn’t generate nearly enough 5-on-5,” said Blue Jackets head coach Todd
Richards could go with Anton Forsberg in net tonight. The 21-year-old Swede
has served as the backup to both Bobrovsky and McElhinney this season, but has
yet to make his NHL debut.
Jersey has won six of the last nine meetings against the Blue Jackets, but
Columbus did win the first three encounters of 2013-14 before the Devils
notched a 5-2 home win on Feb. 27.
The Blue Jackets are 1-4-1 with a tie in seven all-time trips to the Garden