Canucks 2, Devils 1
Friday, 02.24.2012 / 10:46 PM
NEWARK, N.J. -- Ask any player in the NHL and he'll probably tell you that Vancouver Canucks goalie Cory Schneider is much more than a fill-in for Roberto Luongo.
"He's a No. 1 goalie in this League," New Jersey Devils forward Patrik Elias
said. "There will be 29 teams in line to get him when the time is right ... he's that good."
Schneider proved that point Friday at Prudential Center when he stopped 30 shots, including 10 in the third period, to win his seventh straight start as the Canucks beat the New Jersey Devils 2-1 to take over first place in the overall NHL standings.
"He made some really good saves; he's always square to the puck," Devils captain Zach Parise
said. "We had good chances, many rebounds. There weren't many things we did wrong. I thought we played a really good game but Vancouver is a good team."
Aaron Rome and Mason Raymond scored for Vancouver as the surging Canucks snapped the Devils' four-game winning streak and improved to 86 points, one more than Detroit. Both teams have 20 games remaining.
"Once again, our goalie stood tall … [Schneider's] been outstanding for us," Raymond said. "We got in late last night [at 3 a.m. ET from Detroit] and played another great game. It's great to see him play well and get the win that moves us up at the top of the standings -- that's a place that feels pretty good."
The Canucks improved their League-best road record to 22-10-2. Last season, Vancouver finished as the NHL's finest road team at 27-10-4. Additionally, the Canucks improved to 34-6-1 this season when scoring the first goal of the game -- they've scored an NHL-best 67 first-period goals.
Schneider said playing well in the second game of a back-to-back situation is something he takes great pride in.
"That's the reason you have two goalies and two goalies you can trust," Schneider said. "For me, I know the rest of team is tired, but I'm fresh. I might have that extra jump in a game like this for our guys so it's a situation I take a lot of pride in and want to be the difference-maker."
He certainly was.
"Schneider was pretty spectacular," Devils goalie Martin Brodeur
said. "He made some great saves and guys worked really hard. I thought defensively, we played well, holding them to 16 shots and not allowing many scoring chances. But we couldn't put the puck in the net."
Earlier in the day, Brodeur had nothing but praise for Schneider.
"A lot of teams will look at this guy to be a next coming," he said. "I know he's jumping in and out, but eventually it'll be tough to keep him. The team that'll be able to grab him will find themselves a No. 1 goalie."
Schneider becomes a restricted free agent at the conclusion of this season.
Despite arriving in Newark at 3 a.m. ET following their dramatic 4-3 shootout victory in Detroit on Thursday, the Canucks appeared to have more jump in the opening 20 minutes.
Rome gave the Canucks a 1-0 lead when he knocked home a rebound from the bottom of the left circle at 8:44. Defenseman Chris Tanev took the initial shot from the point that was stopped, but the rebound skittered to Rome to Martin Brodeur
's right, and he knocked it home.
A little over two minutes later, Schneider denied Ilya Kovalchuk
off a point-blank rip from the left hash. Schneider, who made eight saves in the first, also turned back Parise off a one-timer from between the circles at 15:43.
The Canucks opened a 2-0 lead 2:07 into the second when Raymond took a pass from David Booth in the right circle and fired a wrist shot that beat Brodeur to the long side, just inside the left post.
"We talked about supporting each other a little more and making some closer five-foot passes and [Booth] drove hard and I came in late and another guy drove the net to draw their defender back," Raymond said. "I got a good shot off and it went in."
The Devils pared the deficit to 2-1 at 11:30 when David Clarkson
redirected a pass from Elias while skating hard down the slot. Clarkson's goal, his 24th of the season, was upheld after video review revealed Clarkson didn't use a distinct kicking motion on the play.
Despite dictating much of the play in the third period, the Devils couldn't solve Schneider.
"I think we gave it everything we had in the first two periods and we were just trying to hang on in the third," Schneider said. "You could see we didn't really sustain a lot of pressure in their end we were trying to get pucks out and get off the ice."
Raymond's goal was his seventh of the season and first in 11 games.
"The Devils came hard in the third and did well … I guess the momentum was in their favor," Raymond said. "But Schneids played big and made the right saves at the right times."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale