Tired and emotionally drained after ending the Detroit Red Wings' NHL-record 23-game home winning streak less than 24 hours earlier, the Vancouver Canucks did what's expected of a very good team — they found a way to beat the New Jersey Devils.
Backup goaltender Cory Schneider did most of the work making 30 saves and Aaron Rome and Mason Raymond provided unlikely goals as the Canucks defeated the Devils 2-1 Friday night for their ninth win (9-1-1) in 11 games. Vancouver has 86 points, one more than Detroit, to lead the NHL.
"That's my job," Schneider said after improving to 14-5. "To be ready when called upon, when guys need a rest and everyone else is tired. We were definitely tired out there, but we expected that. Fortunately, we're a pretty good team when we get a two-goal lead. We gave one back there, but we held on from there."
The Canucks didn't arrive in New Jersey until 3:30 a.m. because of snow-related delays in Detroit. They weren't at their best and managed to prevail despite only getting 16 shots and even fewer good scoring chances. It was enough to hand New Jersey only its third loss (9-2-1) since the All-Star break.
"This was five games in seven nights, and it was not easy to say the least," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "We have nothing left in the tank, and we left it all on the ice."
Vancouver's biggest stars were invisible. Daniel and Henrik Sedin combined for two shots and Alexandre Burrows was blanked.
"We gave everything we had for two periods, and by the time we got to the third, we were pretty much just trying to hang on," Schneider said.
David Clarkson scored for the Devils on a play in which the puck deflected into the net off his skate. After a review, officials upheld the score.
Most of the Devils felt they dominated the game.
"I thought we made a good push," Patrik Elias said. "We played better as the game went on and had plenty of chances to tie it in the third and even grab the game."
Schneider, who backs up Roberto Luongo, was the difference. He played his best when challenged by the Devils' top line of Ilya Kovalchuk, Adam Henrique and Zach Parise, stopping Parise three times under the circles in the third period and defenseman Andy Greene on two shots from the left point.
Elias missed an open net with just over three minutes to play and Schneider made a pad save on a shot that Clarkson didn't hit right seconds later. A goalmouth scramble in the closing seconds was the Devils' last gasp.
"This kid is a No. 1 goalie in this league," Elias said. "He's in a tough position there. I think there are going to be 29 teams in line to get him when his time comes. He is that good. We had traffic and shots and tonight it didn't go in for us."
Schneider's best save came in the opening period when he stopped Kovalchuk with a pad save point blank.
Coming into the game as the NHL's highest scoring team, the Canucks led 1-0 after the first period with the goal generated by two unlikely players. Rome scored his first goal since Nov. 13 (28 games) when he came in from the point, took the rebound of a shot by teammate Christopher Tanev and scored into an open net.
It was his fourth goal of the season and came on Tanev's first point of the season and second of his career.
Raymond made it 2-0 just 2:07 into the second period. He took a drop pass from David Booth above the right circle and ripped a shot that deflected off Greene's knee past Martin Brodeur.
"It's nice to score, but I think I've played well of late, and it seemed like a matter of time," Raymond said of his seventh goal. "I thought it was going to come my way sooner or later."
Clarkson got his 24th goal with 8:30 left in the second period when Elias' centering pass went off his skate into an open net.
The Devils announced during the game they had acquired defenseman Marek Zidlicky from Minnesota in a multi-player deal.
Notes: This was Vancouver's first game at the Prudential Center since Dec. 2, 2009. ... Canucks are 10-4-1 vs. Eastern Conference this season. ... Devils C Ryan Carter returned to the lineup after missing nine games with a fractured finger. ....This was the only game between the teams this season. ...The Canucks are 34-6-1 when scoring first. ...The Devils honored broadcaster Mike Emrick before the game for his 21 years of service with the Devils.