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Larsson scores, Devils rally against Blue Jackets

by Mike G. Morreale

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer feels fortunate they can escape with back-to-back wins despite the lack of a complete effort.

For the second straight game, the Devils got off to a slow start only to turn up the heat in the third period on the way to a win. Adam Henrique and Adam Larsson scored in a span of 1:41 midway through the third to rally New Jersey to a 3-2 victory against the injury-depleted Columbus Blue Jackets at Prudential Center on Saturday.

The victory comes two days after the Devils trailed the Winnipeg Jets 1-0 before tying the game late in the third period and then winning in a shootout.

"The thing I'm mad about is we didn't play good enough in the first two periods," Devils right wing Jaromir Jagr said. "We don't make it easy and don't make the right plays and guys were getting frustrated. We can make it so much easier for ourselves and so much more enjoyable if we play the right way.

"When we're supposed to make a play, we dump it in, and when we dump it in, we're supposed to be making plays, so we've got to make the right plays at the right time."

DeBoer said he is glad his players are upset with the 60-minute effort but stressed that finding a way to win those games is also important.

"It was ugly, but over an 82-game schedule you will get a handful of those games," DeBoer said. "A year ago we would have found a way to lose this game, so the silver lining is we got two points against a [Metropolitan Division] rival."

Larsson's first goal of the season gave the Devils their first lead 10:35 into the third period off a slap shot from the top of the right circle that beat goalie Anton Forsberg, making his NHL debut, to the short side. Larsson took a pass from Bryce Salvador and patiently waited for an opening before scoring his first goal since Nov. 16, 2013.

"I got a good heads-up pass by [Salvador] and just tried to get it to the net; I was lucky it went in," Larsson said. "It was an awesome feeling, especially since we were down. It was important for me and important for the team."

Devils goalie Cory Schneider, in his 11th straight start, made 32 saves. He stopped 15 shots in the third period when the Blue Jackets began to press for the tying goal. Forsberg finished with 26 saves.

"We've got two come-from-behind wins trailing after two [periods], but I'm hoping to see what we look like when we're playing a full 60 [minutes]," Schneider said. "We need to play with that sort of urgency and desperation we had in the third period for 60 minutes."

Marek Zidlicky scored for New Jersey, which finished 2-for-6 on the power play. Jack Skille and Nick Foligno scored for Columbus.

Henrique scored his first goal in five games on a power play at 8:54 to pull the Devils into a 2-2 tie. The goal came 16 seconds after Adam Cracknell was sent to the box for hooking. It appeared as though the play was going to be whistled dead, but the puck was uncovered in the crease and Jagr pushed at it before Henrique lofted a shot into the right corner.

"I thought the whistle was going to go," Henrique said. "I had no idea where the puck was and the goalie was just spread out laying there. [Jagr] or [Zidlicky] must have got a stick on it where it came back through underneath him and I was just lucky enough to be free out front."

Jagr was too busy digging at the puck to be concerned if a whistle was going to be blown.

"It's the NHL; in Europe you would already have two faceoffs," Jagr said. "That's the way it is here. He's not blowing the whistle, and we did a great job continuing the play and finding the puck and putting it into the net."

The Blue Jackets took a 2-1 lead 12:30 into the second period when Foligno tipped a shot past Schneider on a power play. Defenseman Jack Johnson took a shot from the right circle that Foligno tipped home while being pushed to the ice to give Columbus its second lead. Foligno's father, Mike Foligno, is an assistant coach for the Devils.

The Devils tied the game, 1-1, 4:32 into the second when Zidlicky fired a high shot past Forsberg from the left circle on a power play.

The Blue Jackets, who have lost five straight, were without nine regulars: Artem Anisimov (concussion), Matt Calvert (upper body), Nathan Horton (back), Brandon Dubinsky (abdominal surgery), Mark Letestu (groin), James Wisniewski (fractured finger), Sergei Bobrovsky (fractured finger), Boone Jenner (broken left hand) and Corey Tropp (illness).

"They played a hard game, they blocked a lot of shots (13) and played hard," DeBoer said. "You feel for them but we've all been on that end. We needed the two points and got them and that's the main thing."

The Blue Jackets lost defenseman Cody Goloubef (leg) 12:52 into the third period when he collided with Henrique in front of Forsberg and needed to be helped off the ice and to the dressing room. They almost lost Foligno, who was hit by a Johnson slap shot with 1:18 remaining in the second, but the wing returned for the start of the third.

"We worked hard all game but you have to do more than work hard to win a hockey game," Blue Jackets forward Ryan Johansen said.

Columbus (4-7-0) will next play the opener of a home-and-home against the Carolina Hurricanes in Columbus on Tuesday before playing in Raleigh, N.C., on Friday.

"I thought Schneider played a very good game and made some big saves for them, but this one doesn't feel good right now," Johansen said. Playing in his 200th NHL game, he had a 10-game point-scoring streak end (five goals, eight assists).

The Blue Jackets had a bit more jump in their game in the early going and made the Devils pay when Skille converted a 2-on-1 with Brian Gibbons 1:06 into the first. Gibbons, who was making his season debut, skated down left wing with speed and fed Skille, who beat Schneider inside the right post on the first shot of the game.

Forsberg appeared calm and collected in the first period, turning aside 11 shots, including four during two New Jersey power plays.

"I was excited and it was fun to play but it didn't turn out that good," Forsberg said. "It was easier than I thought it would be but I'm sad we lost."

The Devils (6-3-2) will end their three-game homestand Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues. New Jersey will then embark on a three-game road trip to St. Louis on Thursday, the Detroit Red Wings on Friday and Boston Bruins on Nov. 10.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mikemorrealeNHL

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