COLUMBUS, Ohio - John Madden scored a controversial goal to help the New Jersey Devils overcome a third-period deficit and beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 on Friday night.
Kevin Weekes had 26 saves for the Devils, who won their second in a row in the fourth outing of a six-game road trip. Travis Zajac scored the tying goal on a Columbus giveaway, just 1:13 before Madden's disputed goal.
Manny Malhotra scored for Columbus. Rookie Steve Mason had 26 saves in his first loss to an Eastern Conference team. He came in with a 6-0-0 record, 0.66 goals-against average, .977 save percentage and four shutouts in six games against the East.
With the game tied at 1, the outcome teetered on one play.
David Clarkson's shot appeared to be covered by Mason for a second or two before the puck slid free. Madden beat defenceman Fedor Tyutin to the loose puck while the Blue Jackets' other defenceman, Marc Methot, was pushed into the goal post and dislodged it - an instant before Madden jammed the puck across the goal line.
Referee Don Koharski signalled a goal immediately. The play was reviewed by NHL video officials in Toronto. After a few minutes delay, Koharski said the call on the ice would stand.
That touched off a loud chorus of boos from a crowd of 17,738, many wearing T-shirts on "white-out night."
In a game of few choice offensive chances for either team, the Blue Jackets picked up the only goal of the first two periods on a relatively innocuous play. Kristian Huselius carried the puck through traffic in the neutral zone before feeding Malhotra on the left wing. Malhotra skated in on Weekes, his shot sliding between Weekes' leg pads at the 12:46 mark of the second period.
It was Malhotra's fifth goal of the season and extended his points streak to four games.
The Devils evened it midway through the third period on a gift goal.
Mason had stopped everything coming at him. But six seconds into the Devils' first and only power play, Columbus forward R.J. Umberger whiffed on an unobstructed clearing attempt and Zajac collected the puck and fired it past Mason from the left dot for his 13th of the year at the 10:06 mark.
The Devils came right back with the disputed goal.
New Jersey effectively played keepaway with the puck the rest of the way.
The loss ended Columbus' three-game winning streaks overall and at home. The Blue Jackets have won seven of their last 10 overall and eight of 10 at home.
They also dropped to 12-2-0 when leading after two periods.
Notes: Referee Brian Pochmara fell down without contact in the first period and skated to the dressing room. A Blue Jackets spokesman said Pochmara had a recurring shoulder injury. Pochmara did not return. ... Columbus is awaiting word from specialists who will determine if backup G Pascal Leclaire needs season-ending surgery on his ankle. ... Brendan Shanahan, who signed as a free agent earlier in the week, made the trip but did not dress for the Devils. He may play as soon as Saturday night's game at the New York Islanders. ... Blue Jackets LWs Rick Nash (sprained left knee) and Jason Chimera (groin injury) are practising with their teammates but remain on the IR. ... Columbus had only one minor penalty, matching the fewest penalty minutes in a game in franchise history.