– by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief
NEWARK, N.J. — Bright spots are now fewer and further between for the New Jersey Devils in what has become a lost season, but having their one-time franchise goalkeeper looking like the elite player he had been over the majority of his career in New Jersey is enough to motivate the team to finish the season strong.
After going almost 14 months without a win, mainly due to injury, Devils goaltender Cory Schneider picked up his second victory in a span of three days by making 34 saves in New Jersey’s 4-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday night.
“I strive to be consistent and, obviously, you know the past year hasn’t really been that at all,” Schneider said after the game. “But to get back to that and the guys know what they’re going to get every single night, that I’m going to give them a chance to win is really important to me and I think to the team.”
An injury to his hip last season, one that required offseason surgery, along with a loss of form left Schneider without a win since Dec. 27, 2017 before he came on in relief of Keith Kinkaid on Friday in Minnesota and stopped all 15 shots in a come-from-behind win by New Jersey against the Wild. Schneider was back in goal to start on Sunday and carried over that momentum, stopping all 11 shots by Buffalo in the first period.
“We found a way to claw back and get that win for him [in Minnesota],” said Kyle Palmieri, who had a goal and two assists in the game. “Hopefully this is the start of the Cory Schneider of old and he can keep growing that confidence and keep playing well because he plays like he did the other night and tonight, he’ll give us great chances to win.”
Palmieri set up both Devils goals in the second period, first by centering a pass on a 2-on-1 opportunity to Miles Wood, who tapped the puck in past Buffalo goalkeeper Carter Hutton at 7:25 to open the game’s scoring. Just over six minutes later, and while on the power play, Palmieri set up a one-time blast from the right circle by Jesper Bratt, who scored his sixth of the season to double New Jersey’s advantage.
Sam Reinhart scored with 56 seconds remaining for the Sabres to cut New Jersey’s lead to 2-1, but then Palmieri scored on a backhand in front of Hutton with 5:51 remaining in the third to once again open up a two-goal margin.
Joey Anderson’s short-handed, empty-net goal at 16:51 of the third capped off the scoring.