Newark, N.J. - It looked to be another one of those starts for Cory Schneider where the New Jersey Devils cannot score more than one goal for the net minder.
The Devils got the opening goal from the smoking hot Michael Ryder, who buried home a pass from Ryane Clowe for his 16th goal of the season.
Both teams had awesome goaltending tonight, Schneider and the Florida Panthers’ Tim Thomas allowed one goal through regulation and almost through overtime.
The Devils were just 3.8 seconds away from the shootout that they loathe so much, when Peter DeBoer called a timeout before the final face-off in the right circle of the offensive zone.
Jaromir Jagr quarterbacked the play, telling Zidlicky where to line up if Travis Zajac won the face-off back.
He did just that and Jagr sent a the puck over to Zidlicky where he tee’d off a one-timer past the glove of Thomas for the game winner.
The goal took just 1.7 seconds to complete and before Thomas and the Panthers knew it, the puck was in the back of the net.
Jagr’s assist pushed him past Mario Lemieux on the NHL all-time scoring list with 1724 career points, seventh all-time.
The Panthers got their lone goal from Nick Bjugstad on a 2-on-1 that just beat Schneider’s glove.
The win brought Schneider’s GAA down to 1.97, fifth in the NHL this year. DeBoer awarded him with his third consecutive start tomorrow against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Devils now sit just one point out of a playoff spot and also are above .500 again with a record of 19-18-9.
Also, the Devils had a surprise tonight with a special appearance from Newark native Shaquille O’Neal. The Big Aristotle was introduced at the start of the game and gave a ceremonial puck drop. He then rode a zamboni during intermission and threw t-shirts into the crowd.
The Devils go to Toronto to play the Maple Leafs and try to extend their win streak to three.
1st Star - Marek Zidlicky
2nd Star - Cory Schneider
3rd Star - Tim Thomas