COLUMBUS -- James Wisniewski felt ill Tuesday morning, but he made the New Jersey Devils sick later that night with his first goal of the season and two assists that led the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 4-1 victory at Nationwide Arena.
The defenseman was told by coach Todd Richards to sit out the pregame skate and rest, and Wisniewski used the advice wisely.
He entered with a minus-4 and four assists, but he was a plus-2 Tuesday in 20 shifts totaling 19:08. He blocked three shots to help the Blue Jackets (4-5-0) win a second straight game after dropping four in a row.
"We showed a lot of character in the way we played," Wisniewski said. "It took us a little while to get going but we found a way to win."
Wisniewski said he woke up at 6 a.m. and starting vomiting. He said he did so twice during the game.
"He didn't do a lot of campaigning (to play)," Richards said. "I just had a brief talk ... he knows how he feels. He came out of warm-ups and I asked him how he felt."
New Jersey aided Columbus with loose play that led to Wisniewski's goal and the one by Cam Atkinson late in the second period that gave the Blue Jackets the lead. Earlier in the period, the teams exchanged power-play goals; Michael Ryder scored for the Devils (1-5-3) at 6:24 before Brandon Dubinsky equalized at 9:56.
On Wisniewski's goal, Devils defenseman Peter Harrold tried to clear the zone out of the left corner, but the pass went off the stick of teammate Andrei Loktionov directly to Wisniewski, who kept the puck in at the blue line and followed with a shot that deflected off the stick of New Jersey defenseman Mark Fayne.
New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer didn't disagree with the play by Harrold, only the execution.
"It's a costly goal, but it was the right idea, right play," DeBoer said. "I don't know if I'd ask Harrold to play it any differently, and I'd say nine times out of 10 Loktionov probably handles that puck."
It was that kind of game for the Devils, who provided little support for goaltender Cory Schneider even though they scored first. Schneider made 20 saves starting consecutive games for the first time this season. He and Martin Brodeur split the first eight games, with Schneider blanking the New York Rangers 4-0 Saturday.
"We wanted to build off that win," Devils captain Bryce Salvador said. "It started that way with the power-play goal but we didn't build off it."
The Devils are 0-5-2 on the road and searching for answers.
"If I knew, we definitely would address it, fix it," Salvador said. "Until the third period we had a chance, then they got that quick goal."
The game was scoreless until Ryder took a pass from Jaromir Jagr, playing in his 1,400th NHL game, and put a wrist shot under the crossbar at 6:24 for his fourth goal. It came on the Devils' eighth shot of the period while the Blue Jackets had none.
That didn't deter Columbus. Jagr went to the penalty box for holding at 8:21, and Dubinsky made him pay 95 seconds later. The Blue Jackets moved the puck along the blue line and set up Wisniewski for a shot from the right point. The puck hit the body then the skate of Blue Jackets left wing R.J. Umberger and landed in the crease, where Dubinsky poked in his second goal before Schneider could get to it.
"I didn't think we won enough battles in the tough areas of the rink," DeBoer said. "They're a big heavy team. ... We didn't do enough to win here tonight."
Atkinson took advantage of another turnover to score the winner at 15:30 of the second. He claimed an errant puck off the high wall and skated right-to-left above the circles before zipping a backhander. With Boone Jenner creating a screen in front, Schneider never saw Atkinson's third goal fly by.
"I used my body, saw an opening, and tried to get a shot off as quick as possible," Atkinson said. "The only reason I took that shot was because I knew Boone was in front of the net screening the goalie. He had no idea where the puck was. He didn't see it. Boone had a great screen."
Richards credited those two and other young players for helping the Blue Jackets out of an early-season funk.
"Our veteran players have stepped up their game," he said. "The young players are pushing, and our vets have taken it in the right direction."
Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 24 of 25 shots after not playing for the first time this season Sunday when Curtis McElhinney defeated the Vancouver Canucks 3-1. Wisniewski and Dubinsky assisted on Marian Gaborik's empty-net goal with 25 seconds left.
|PPG - Michael Ryder (4) ASST: Jaromir Jagr (4), Rostislav Olesz (2)|
1 - 0 NJD
|PPG - Brandon Dubinsky (2) ASST: R.J. Umberger (4), James Wisniewski (5)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Cam Atkinson (3) ASST: NONE|
2 - 1 CBJ
|James Wisniewski (1) ASST: NONE|
3 - 1 CBJ
|EN - Marian Gaborik (4) ASST: Brandon Dubinsky (3), James Wisniewski (6)|
4 - 1 CBJ
|Travis Zajac Hi-sticking against Nick Foligno|
|Blake Comeau Boarding against Andrei Loktionov|
|Marian Gaborik Hooking against Travis Zajac|
|Jaromir Jagr Holding against Jack Johnson|
|Boone Jenner Slashing against Anton Volchenkov|
|Dainius Zubrus Closing hand on puck|
|Brandon Dubinsky Roughing against Anton Volchenkov|