Devils recover from slow start, beat Coyotes 4-1

Sunday, March 15, 2015

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Cory Schneider recently bought his New Jersey Devils teammates dinner. It may be time for the skaters to return the favor and treat their goaltender to a steak.

Schneider kept the Devils in it during a sluggish start, then Mike Cammalleri scored his 25th goal in a three-goal third period and New Jersey beat the Arizona Coyotes 4-1 Saturday night to avoid a winless road trip.

Schneider made 30 saves, and he kept the game scoreless even with the Coyotes holding a 21-7 edge in shots midway through the second period.

"As you play more in this league, you start to know those games where, all right, early on here I may have to be very good to keep us in it," Schneider said. "At the end of a long road trip is one of those times."

Jordin Tootoo had a goal and an assist, and Adam Henrique and Stephen Gionta also scored for the Devils, who snapped a two-game skid behind Schneider's 25th victory.

"He gives us a chance to win every night," said Tootoo, who was in a fight less than 3 minutes in after he knocked over Arizona goaltender Mike Smith behind the net. "As a team, you want to go in the same path as he does. Schneid brings it every day."

After captain Shane Doan's first goal in 15 games cut Arizona's lead to 2-1 early in the third period, Tootoo poked in a rebound 20 seconds later.

Cammalleri beat Mike Smith on another rebound 3 minutes after that to put it away.

So is it time for Cammalleri to take out his wallet to treat Schneider?

"You could look at it that way," Cammalleri said, grinning. "Or you could look at it that it's real good fortune. When he buys dinner, he plays really well."

There are few smiles around Arizona these days. Smith stopped 25 shots for the Coyotes, who have dropped four straight and 14 of 15.

"I think we make a lot of goalies look good," Arizona coach Dave Tippett said.

With bleak playoff hopes, the Devils were without center Patrik Elias. He left practice a day earlier with lingering back spasms.

It gave Michael Ryder a chance to play for the first time since Feb. 28. He skated on the right wing with Gionta and Dainius Zubrus.

But with general manager Lou Lamoriello back behind the bench, the Devils couldn't muster much offense early. The Devils were even outshot 3-1 on their first two power plays, with Schneider making a stop on Joe Vitale's breakaway.

"I had to make some saves and that's part of the job," Schneider said. "I thought my teammates responded really well. The second half of the game was all us."

An odd carom help awaken the Devils.

Travis Zajac's wild shot late in the second period went high off the glass behind the goal, then ricocheted to Henrique's stick on the fly in front of the net for his 15th of the season.

Arizona, depleted from multiple trades that have drained the roster of talent in an eye for the future, wilted in the final period.

But for the Coyotes, losing may be good. They remained six points behind Buffalo and two behind 29th place Edmonton for the worst record in the NHL. That team would get the best chance to win the lottery with an opportunity to draft top prospects Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson played for Arizona after being a game-time decision with an upper-body injury. The defenseman was hurt on Thursday on a hit by Chicago's Joakim Nordstrom that earned him a two-game suspension.

"It was a bad hit," Ekman-Larsson said, "but Nordstrom texted me after the game and he apologized."

NOTES: B.J. Crombeen immediately went after Tootoo when he knocked down Smith "We know he likes to get out and play the puck a lot," Tootoo said of Smith. Tootoo received the extra roughing penalty. ... Cammalleri served as Devils assistant captain with Elias out. ... Ekman-Larsson has played in every game this season. He missed two in 2013-14.