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Merrill's 1st goal lifts Devils over Oilers in OT

  • Article by: TOM CANAVAN
  • Associated Press
  • February 7, 2014 - 9:10 PM

NEWARK, N.J. — Devils defenseman Jon Merrill scored his first NHL goal 2:34 into overtime, and New Jersey defeated the Edmonton Oilers 2-1 on Friday night.

Cory Schneider made 19 saves and Andrei Loktionov scored in regulation as the Devils snapped a two-game skid.

Taylor Hall had the goal for the Oilers, who lost for only the second time in seven games (5-1-1). Ilya Bryzgalov made 22 saves for Edmonton, which was playing its final game before the Olympic break.

New Jersey had blown leads late in the third period of its last three games. In the past two, Nashville and Colorado tied the score after pulling their goalies for an extra skater.

This time, Adam Henrique and Michael Ryder won a battle in the corner during overtime, and Ryder found Merrill all alone for a shot from above the left circle.

The Devils hit three posts in the game, with Ryder clanging a shot off the crossbar with 9:20 to play.

Both teams went for the win in the final minutes of regulation. Henrique had two chances in close with just more than 4 minutes to go, and defenseman Andrew Ference and Matt Hendricks had chances for Edmonton a minute later.

Schneider stopped a chance in close by Jordan Eberle early in overtime.

With the Devils struggling to score, coach Pete DeBoer shook up his lines for the game and that led to the team's first goal.

Loktionov, who was put at center on Jaromir Jagr's line, opened the scoring at 11:01 with his first goal since Dec. 4.

Jagr and defenseman Bryce Salvador set up the goal. Jagr carried the puck into the Oilers zone and found Salvador on the other side of the ice. He skated toward Bryzgalov and sent a cross-ice pass to a wide-open Loktionov for a shot into an open net.

Jagr's assist was the 1,039th of his career, putting him one behind Marcel Dionne for ninth in NHL history.

The public address announcer had not finished giving out the assists when Edmonton tied the game 29 seconds later.

Hall skated the puck into the Devils end and worked a perfect give-and-go with Nail Yakupov for his 20th goal of the season. Schneider never had a chance to stop the shot into an open net.

New Jersey had plenty of opportunities to take the lead in the second period. Devils defenseman Marek Zidlicky hit the post on a power-play shot and Ryane Clowe hit a post on a breakaway after an Oilers turnover.

Mark Fayne's shot from the point was past Bryzgalov and heading into the net when Ference swept it away from the crease.

The Devils have a game left at Washington on Saturday night before the Olympic break.

NOTES: Oilers D Justin Schultz played in his 100th NHL game. ... Martin Brodeur has been the Devils' backup goalie for the past five games. He has not played since giving up six goals in two periods during the outdoor game against the New York Rangers at Yankee Stadium. ... Devils D Anton Volchenkov missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury. ... Russian Olympian Anton Belov did not play on the road trip.

© 2014 Star Tribune