Adam Larsson Scores Late As Devils Defeat Toronto In A Shootout


This is not a drill! The New Jersey Devils have won a shootout! After not winning a skills competition at all last season, the Devils won their third already this year. Cory Schneider did not let either attempt he saw go into the net and he actually got some offensive support as Jacob Josefson and Patrik Elias were both able to score on their shots. This is nothing new for Josefson as he scored the winner back in October when the Devils dropped Winnipeg in a shootout earier this season. Patrik Elias ended the game with a nifty backhand, this after he failed on all three breakaway attempts he had over the weekend during the All-Star game. Elias even joked in the postgame on-ice interview how he hasn’t scored many shootout attempts recently.

Jan 28, 2015; Newark, NJ, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs center Tyler Bozak (42) reaches for the puck after a save by New Jersey Devils goalie Cory Schneider (35) during the first period at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The Devils improved to 18-22-8, 44 points, and 5-2-1 over their last eight games. They have been playing much better since the firing of Peter DeBoer and no player has stepped his game up more than Adam Larsson. It’s no secret that Larsson was not a favorite of DeBoer and would often find himself scratched or benched. Since Scott Stevens took over, Adam Larsson has arguably become the team’s best defenseman. He’s been playing on the top pairing with Andy Greene and those two have shut down the opposition’s top forwards. He’s also seen a bit of time on the power play, but he’s made his mark being a stalwart on the penalty kill which has been on fire lately.

Tonight the Devils would need Adam Larsson to come through in a big way and he did. The game was very dull for the first 50 minutes and then the Leafs would get on the board when James van Riemsdyk would get in behind Marek Zidlicky for a breakaway goal. The way the Devils were performing offensively, the game seemed over. However, after a great shift by the Travis Zajac, Martin Havlat and Patrik Elias line, Adam Larsson would step up. He gathered a puck by the blue line and sent a hard wrister that snuck inside the left post. The goal came with 2:50 left in the game and the arena went wild. Overall, Larsson played 24:59 of outstanding defense, had four shots, one blocked shot and was a +1. In the last eight games, he has a goal and five assists. Adam Larsson might be the brightest story to come out of this season.

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Don’t think I forgot about Cory Schneider because there’s no way I could. The Devils would have been in deep trouble if it wasn’t for #35 between the pipes. Toronto was all over the Devils, especially on the power play, where they went 0-5 and a huge part of that was the play of Schneider. The Leafs must have fired half of their 30 shots with the man-advantage and Schneider was equal to all of them. The only time he faltered came on JVR’s breakaway, which is nothing to fret over. Cory Schneider made plenty of highlight reel saves both with his left pad and his glove. 29 saves and perfect in the shootout makes for one heck of a night. In his last seven games, Schneider is 5-1-0 with a .937 SV% and a 2.00 GAA. Talk about elite.

The odd thing about tonight was the fact Jordin Tootoo was on the power play instead of Adam Henrique. Lou Lamoriello said that was because Henrique kills penalties and they need to manage his ice time, but that’s not good enough. Henrique leads the team in points and should be on every single power play.

Cory Schneider and Adam Larsson have impressed so much this season and the sky is the limit for those two. Let’s hope they keep growing and the team fills in around them. There’s a tough test upcoming on Friday night when the Pittsburgh Penguins roll into town.

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