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Devils top Canucks on Palmieri's OT goal

by Mike G. Morreale /

NEWARK, N.J. -- For the New Jersey Devils to challenge for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, their special teams must play a significant role.

They did just that on Sunday, when the Devils held the Vancouver Canucks scoreless on six power-play chances and got a shorthanded goal by Adam Henrique before a power-play goal by Kyle Palmieri with 1:27 remaining in overtime gave them a 4-3 victory at Prudential Center.

"Specialty teams can win you games and we were fortunate to get that one in overtime," Devils goalie Keith Kinkaid said. "It's a good feeling. Our penalty kill is strong, we're blocking shots and getting it done. We had to keep them in check and probably gave them a few too many power plays, but we stayed with it."

Palmieri's fifth goal of the season, off a pass from Mike Cammalleri, came on a shot from the right circle with goalie Ryan Miller out of position. An offensive-zone interference penalty against Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis gave New Jersey the 4-on-3 power play.

"[Cammalleri] made a great play," Palmieri said. "We had a couple plays that didn't work and frustration might have been settling in, but the goal was kind of a broken little forecheck where the puck went to [Cammalleri]. The Canucks know he's a shooter, and when he pumped he froze everybody, so all I had to do was put it in the empty net."

Cammalleri and Sergey Kalinin also scored for the Devils (8-5-1) and Kinkaid made 28 saves in his third start of the season and first since Oct. 13. The Devils are 8-2-0 in their last 10 games.

Goalie Cory Schneider, who spent five seasons with the Canucks before the Devils acquired him in a trade June 30, 2013, had started the past 10 games before getting the night off.

"I'm not going to lie, it took me a little bit to get into it," Kinkaid said of the long break between starts. "I think all those power plays we gave Vancouver gave me a little more nervous energy; I had to use that to fuel the system and we did a great job as a team."

The Devils finished with 11 blocked shots, including two each by Henrique, Adam Larsson and Jacob Josefson.

Chris Higgins, Alexander Edler and Sven Baertschi scored for the Canucks (6-4-5). Miller, making his fourth straight start, finished with 24 saves.

"We had chances on the power play and we didn't score," Vancouver coach Willie Desjardins said. "That's kind of the difference in the game."

The Devils killed a five-minute interference major to Larsson midway through the third to keep the game 3-3. Desjardins said failure to score on the long power play was a missed opportunity.

"We have to [generate] more on the [five-minute major]," he said. "That's such a big opportunity in that stage of the game. We just didn't come out with quite enough."

The Canucks trailed 3-1 in the second period before goals by Edler and Baertschi in a span of 2:09 got them even. Edler scored on a wrist shot from the left circle at 11:57. Baertschi snapped his first of the season past Kinkaid from the left hash at 14:06.

"The close games have been slipping away from us," Baertschi said. "There's reasons for it. It might be tiny little mistakes. In the end, we have the group to win those games. We have smart enough players, we have enough skill to win those games. Eventually we're going to figure it out. Those games are going to be big for us."

The Canucks were forced to kill 1:32 of a 5-on-3 power play for the Devils late in the third period. With Yannick Weber off for holding and Edler for boarding, Miller made three saves to keep the game tied.

"It wasn't the prettiest [win] and we wanted to key in on winning the special-teams battle," Palmieri said. "I think it came through for us in the end. It was a game that went back and forth and there were lots of penalties but our penalty kill did a great job and [Kinkaid] stepped up big when he needed him and that was a key for us."

Cammalleri gave the Devils a 2-1 lead when he beat Miller with a backhand down the middle at 16:32 of the first period. Lee Stempniak and Cammalleri raced into the Canucks' zone on a 2-on-1 break. Cammalleri took a pass in the high slot, faked Miller and skated around him before scoring his fifth of the season.

The Devils took a 3-1 lead at 10:31 of the second period when Sergey Kalinin scored his first NHL goal, a wrist shot from the right faceoff dot that beat Miller.

The Canucks opened the scoring when Higgins scored his second of the season on a turnaround from the slot at 2:20.

Vancouver had an opportunity to extend the lead when Devils defenseman Damon Severson was whistled for interference at 4:40. Instead, Henrique tied the game when he took a pass from Travis Zajac in the slot and snapped a shot past Miller at 5:18 for his second shorthanded goal of the season and the 11th of his career.

"I don't know if there's something behind it or not but I enjoy playing shorthanded," Henrique said. "I'm not always thinking about the offensive side of it, but just getting the kill first and going from there."

The Canucks thought they had pulled even when Jake Virtanen scored on a wraparound attempt with 2:24 left in the first period. However, the goal was disallowed after Devils coach John Hynes successfully challenged the play, claiming that Alexandre Burrows interfered with Kinkaid in the crease. The goal was waved off after a video review.


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