- The Devils got out to a 1-0 lead on a 2-on-1 goal by Stephen Gionta in the first period.
- In the second stanza, it was Adam Henrique who lit the lamp off of a beautiful feed from Jaromir Jagr.
- Playing without their superstar, Alexander Ovechkin, the Capitals struggled to get sustained pressure on the Devils, though they did manage 31 shots on the evening.
- The difference on Friday night was Cory Schneider, who has been superb lately. The only blemish was a third period tally by Jason Chimera.
It might be freezing cold on Sunday at Yankee Stadium, but the Devils are starting to bring the heat at the right time.
Cory Schneider might not start on Sunday, nor is he a member of the 2014 US Olympic team, but his numbers are reaching an entirely different stratosphere. With the win, the former Boston College Eagle evened up his record at 9-9-7, while lowering his goals against average to a minuscule 1.84 and brought his save percentage to .928%.
Not to be overlooked is the play of the defense in front of him. Much maligned players in the offseason, Anton Volchenkov and Bryce Salvador are bringing strength and grit to the lineup. Since Salvador's return on December 28th, the team is 7-3-3.
While there are plenty of Salvador detractors, the captain has been a stabilizing force in the lineup. No. 24 is a plus-one since returning to the lineup.
The seven-goal outburst against the Blues is far from the norm. If this team hopes to make the playoffs, they're going to have to win these kind of hard-fought 2-1 games. With the power play looking better of late and players like Ryane Clowe and Adam Henrique starting to sizzle, it's going to come down to the ability to win one-goal games. Considering that the Devils do not have a regulation loss when leading after two periods, they are going to have to rely on that lock-down prowess during the stretch run.
This was a game that the Devils had to have and they got it done. Washington, who seemed like a lock at one point to make the playoffs out of the Metropolitan Division are suddenly struggling. For the Devils to take two points against the Caps without them gaining at least a point is a big plus.
With an assist on both goals, Jaromir Jagr moved into a tie for the 10th most assists in NHL history. He's tied with former teammate Mario Lemieux, with 1,033 helpers.
Up next is the big one. The Devils will skate at noon from Yankee Stadium on Saturday in preparation for Sunday's game against the Rangers. Speaking of the Rangers, with the Devils win against the Capitals, a regulation win by New Jersey would bring the Devils into a tie with New York at 57 points.
Every Devils-Rangers game is big, but with 40,000-plus watching and a two huge points in the standings at stake, this has the makings of a classic.
For the Devils, this matchup is coming at the right time, as the team has notched points in eight of their last nine games.