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Schneider takes back seat on Devils

Praises Kinkaid, who's 11-3-0 in past 14 starts, has New Jersey in playoff hunt

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Cory Schneider said there's no question goaltending partner Keith Kinkaid has earned the position he's in for the New Jersey Devils.

Kinkaid, 28, has been there for the Devils at a critical time, with teams competing down the stretch to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Kinkaid won 4-3 at the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday and 2-1 against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. He is 11-3-0 with a 2.26 goals-against average and .932 save percentage with one shutout in his past 15 games (14 starts).

Schneider hasn't won since Dec. 27, a 3-1 victory against the Detroit Red Wings, and has struggled in four starts since returning to the Devils net March 1 after missing 16 games with a groin/hip injury.

"At this time of the year, it's not about any one individual player, it's about the team and whatever is best for the team and Keith has been playing fantastic the last month and a half," Schneider said. "Even if I was playing well, Keith would give us a good decision to have in net one way or another.

"For me, it's about working hard, competing and being ready when it's my turn. You look at the past two Stanley Cup championships by the Penguins, and they needed both guys (Matt Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury) down the stretch, so you never know what could happen."

Coach John Hynes will give Kinkaid his third straight start when the Devils play the Carolina Hurricanes at Prudential Center on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; MSG, FS-CR, NHL.TV). New Jersey holds the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference with 86 points, three ahead of the Florida Panthers, who have two games in hand.

"[Kinkaid] won back-to-backs against two elite teams, and I'd say got us the win in both," Schneider said. "He's been dialed in and he's a guy that when he's feeling the rhythm and going like that, he plays with a lot of confidence."

Video: TBL@NJD: Kinkaid withstands the Bolts' furious flurry

Schneider, 32, is in the third season of a seven-year contract extension he signed with the Devils on July 9, 2014.

"Cory Schneider understands he's not playing the best that he can play and also understands Keith is," Hynes said. "He's a team-first guy and understands that right now the decisions we make are to play the guy that's playing well and Keith's doing that."

Hynes praised Schneider for the way he's handled the situation.

"Cory works in practice, he's got great energy around the room and that's part of being a leader, being a high-character guy," he said. "When it's not going good for you, it's putting yourself aside and really bringing the right type of energy and work ethic and mentality to the team, and he's clearly done that."

Schneider said he'll be ready whenever he's called upon.

"I've been trying to use practices like my games, competing and working hard, and sometimes you just carry that over into the game and you feel great," he said. "You can't dwell on what's happened. You just have to be ready going forward for whatever part you play."

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