Published January 13, 2015
(SportsNetwork.com) - In years past, Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo were accustomed to battling each other for playing time.
On Thursday, however, the former teammates will face one another for the second time this season as the New Jersey Devils welcome the Vancouver Canucks to the Prudential Center.
Schneider was selected 26th overall in the first round of the 2004 draft by Vancouver and figured to be the Canucks' goaltender of the future. That process seemed to be expedited when Schneider took over for Luongo during the 2012 playoffs and he entered the lockout-shortened campaign as Vancouver's No. 1 while they tried to deal the high-priced Luongo.
Schneider went 17-9-4 with five shutouts, a 2.11 goals against average and .927 save percentage in 30 starts for the Canucks last season, while Luongo was 9-6-3 with a 2.56 GAA and .907 save percentage in 20 games, including 18 starts.
But with Vancouver unable to move Luongo, who is in the fourth season of a 12- year, $64 million deal, the Canucks instead opted to send Schneider to the Devils in exchange for a first-round selection in a draft-day deal.
Luongo and the Canucks hosted New Jersey on Oct. 8 and Vancouver recorded a 3-2 win in overtime. Luongo needed to make 21 saves for the win, while Schneider stopped 29-of-32 shots in a losing effort.
Schneider has been one of the few bright spots for the 1-5-3 Devils this season, posting a solid 2.21 goals against average and .917 save percentage despite his 1-3-1 record. The 27-year-old will get a third straight start for New Jersey on Thursday, leaving future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur to take on the backup role once again.
After posting a shutout victory Saturday against the New York Rangers, Schneider and the Devils were dealt a 4-1 loss Tuesday in Columbus. James Wisniewski posted a goal and two assists to lead the way for the Blue Jackets.
Michael Ryder scored in the loss and Schneider made 20 saves for the Devils.
New Jersey could get forward Patrik Elias back tonight after he sat out the last two games with flu-like symptoms. However, Devils captain Bryce Salvador will miss Thursday's contest after returning home to Lethbridge, Alberta to deal with a death in his family. The Devils recalled defenseman Eric Gelinas from Albany of the AHL to replace Salvador in the lineup.
The Canucks, meanwhile, lost forward Jannik Hansen to an injury on Tuesday, when the club won a 5-4 overtime decision against the New York Islanders. Brad Richardson's game-winner went in off an opponent's stick 2:16 into OT, giving Vancouver a road win at Nassau Coliseum.
Vancouver survived deficits of 2-0, 3-2 and a game-tying goal by New York's Frans Nielsen with 1:12 left in regulation to snap a two-game losing streak.
Skating on the left side, Richardson flipped the puck toward the crease and it snuck past Evgeni Nabokov after going off defenseman Andrew MacDonald's stick.
Ryan Kesler, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin and Chris Higgins also scored for the Canucks. Luongo made 28 saves in the win.
"We grinded out an ugly one," Higgins said. "We got the two points and that's the most important thing."
Hansen was hurt in the first period after going into the boards and left the game. He is not expected to play in Thursday's contest.
Vancouver is 3-1-1 so far on a seven-game road trip that is set to end tomorrow in St. Louis.
The Canucks have dominated the Devils in recent years, taking four straight, five of six and nine of the last 11 meetings in this series. Vancouver also has claimed two in a row and five of the past six encounters in New Jersey.