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Schneider sets career high, Devils defeat Canucks

by Mike G. Morreale

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils goaltender Cory Schneider established a career high for wins with his 21st, a 4-2 victory against the Vancouver Canucks at Prudential Center on Friday.

Schneider made his NHL debut with the Canucks on Nov. 29, 2008, and won 20 games for them in 2011-12.

"For sure it feels good," Schneider said. "They're a good team and it's fun to beat good teams, but especially since I hadn't beaten them in my career, so it's nice to get that one."

Schneider, who faced the Canucks for the fourth time since being traded to the Devils in June 2013, made 21 saves. He had some tense moments late in the game when the Canucks were on a power play after Devils defenseman Marek Zidlicky closed his hand on the puck at 16:06 of the third period with New Jersey holding a 3-2 lead.

Canucks coach Willie Desjardins pulled goalie Eddie Lack to make it a two-man advantage, but Mike Cammalleri scored into an empty net, his second goal of the game, with 2:07 remaining.

"After the [Canucks' second] goal, I felt we did a great job in their end not giving them a whole lot, and then didn't realize their net was empty with about four and a half minutes left, so they were buzzing and unfortunately we took a penalty," Schneider said. "We did a great job killing it off and got the shorthanded empty-netter, and that made all the difference."

Patrik Elias and Jordin Tootoo scored for the Devils (23-26-9), and defenseman Adam Larsson had a career-high three assists. Cammalleri said he has seen Larsson's confidence build with each game.

"When you're that age (22) it's not easy going through the first stage of your NHL career, proving to yourself, your teammates and the organization that you're an everyday NHL player," Cammalleri said. "You feel your ups and downs and insecurities in your game. Hockey is a game of mistakes, and mistakes are magnified, and that's a hard way to play.

"I think [Larsson] is hitting that next level where he's feeling good about his game and you're seeing it in everything, from his body language to the results."

Zack Kassian, who was promoted to the Canucks' top line after Alexandre Burrows was scratched with a lower-body injury, had his first two-goal game in the NHL. Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin each had two assists, and Lack made 23 saves.

"They scored on the chances they had, but we battled back and had a chance," Henrik Sedin said. "We were focused coming in but were a little flat. I don't think we were sharp mentally. Our passes weren't on the tape and we didn't get pucks deep enough."

Vancouver defeated the New York Rangers 5-4 in a shootout Thursday.

This was the first time in six games the Devils scored more than two goals in a game. They led 3-0 less than three minutes into the second period.

"Well, I've always felt the three-goal lead in hockey is the worst lead," Devils co-coach Lou Lamoriello said.

Schneider, who has rarely played with a three-goal cushion, will take it any time.

"You never want to give up a goal in any circumstance, and when they made it 3-2 there was a little more pressure, but having that lead allows for a little margin for error," Schneider said. "If one sneaks in or there's a bad bounce, it's not going to cost you the game. It's good, we responded well, and were able to shut the door in the end."

Schneider (21-22-5), who had the secondary assist on the goal by Tootoo, is 11-7-5 at Prudential Center.

The Devils, who have won two straight, play the third of a six-game homestand against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday. Lamoriello said Keith Kinkaid would make his eighth start of the season.

The Canucks (33-22-3), who had a two-game winning streak end, play the third of a five-game Eastern Conference road trip against the New York Islanders on Sunday.

"We didn't have the first period that we would have liked, but I think we came back in the second and third and could have popped a couple more in but didn't, but that's the way it goes," Kassian said.

New Jersey outshot Vancouver 27-23, including a 7-2 in the first period.

The Devils scored twice 2:58 into the second period to take a 3-0 lead. Tootoo scored off a shot from the left circle that beat Lack to the long side at 50 seconds before Cammalleri scored a power-play goal on a slap shot from the top of the right circle.

Schneider's assist was his second of the season and eighth in the NHL.

"What a play there, eh?" he said, tongue in cheek.

Kassian converted a nice pass from Daniel Sedin with a tip between the legs of Schneider at 6:23 to make it 3-1. Kassian got behind Devils defenseman Eric Gelinas to gain position in the slot and accept a saucer pass from Sedin off a rush.

"[Kassian] gave us some life; he came in and scored two big ones," Daniel Sedin said. "He skated well and was making plays. That's what we need from him. He has to be sharp defensively and be good offensively."

Elias gave the Devils a 1-0 lead 7:12 into the first period when he scored his 403rd NHL goal. After winning an offensive-zone draw, Elias got a return pass from Larsson along the right-wing boards and released a long shot from outside the faceoff circle that deflected off the stick of Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis and beat Lack inside the short-side post.

The Canucks played without top-four defensemen Alexander Edler (upper body), Christopher Tanev (upper body) and Kevin Bieksa (broken hand), second-line center Nick Bonino (lower body) and third-line center Brad Richardson (ankle).

"We've been battling through injuries for a while now, and missing [Burrows] was tough," Henrik Sedin said. "But I thought we battled as a team, and that's all you could ask for."

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