Bennett gets late goal to lift Devils over Wild
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) Two straight road wins had the Devils feeling good about their recent play. Beating the Minnesota Wild to end the road trip solidifies New Jersey’s positive feelings.
Beau Bennett scored with 2:17 remaining to lift the Devils to a 4-3 win against Minnesota, which had won 17 of its previous 20 games.
Pavel Zacha, Adam Henrique and Kyle Palmieri also scored. Cory Schneider made 32 saves for New Jersey, which went 3-0-1 on its four-game road trip and has points in six straight road contests.
”Tonight was a real big test and we knew that going in,” Devils coach John Hynes said. ”We felt like we have been playing pretty good hockey and it was really going to be a test. They’re the hottest team in the league and in the past we’ve had some games against teams like that – the Pittsburghs and the Washingtons – where we weren’t as competitive as we wanted to be. We felt like we were competitive tonight and found a way to win.”
Bennett scored his third of the season and first in eight games while surrounded by Wild defenders. Blake Coleman was falling as he sent a centering pass to Bennett, who snapped a shot high past goalie Devan Dubnyk. It was Coleman’s first point in his fourth career game.
”It just helps when you’ve got all 12 forwards going, all six D, you don’t have to cut anyone’s time short,” Bennett said. ”As long as we’re getting that depth, production and effort, and you can keep the lines rolling, I think it keeps the top guys fresher.”
Jared Spurgeon, Jason Zucker and Erik Haula scored for Minnesota, which got just its second regulation loss since Dec. 2. Dubnyk stopped 22 shots.
”They kept pushing, and I’m sure they believed they were going to tie it up the way came out in the third period,” Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau said. ”We just did some uncharacteristically dumb things on all their goals. You can call it what you want, but they earned it, and we didn’t.”
The Wild were returning home after winning both games of a road trip and overtaking Chicago to lead the Central Division. They pressured Schneider regularly, outshooting New Jersey 15-6 in the first period and 35-26 for the game.
Schneider did his part to slow the highest-scoring team in the Western Conference.
”We saved one of our better games for last against a really good team,” Schneider said of the road trip. ”We’re going to need wins like this; where you’re down and maybe don’t expect to come back against a team like that, but you do. Those are important wins throughout the year.”
Spurgeon scored the only goal in the first period after he gloved a rebound off of Schneider, dropped the puck and batted it out of midair into the net on the back side.
Zucker’s 12th goal of the season gave Minnesota a 2-0 advantage midway through the second. But the lowest-scoring team in the Eastern Conference came back.
Zacha, the sixth-overall pick in the 2015 draft, scored in the second for his first goal since Nov. 25. Henrique scored early in the third, one of three goals in the period for New Jersey.
”It’s frustrating because we threw it away,” Dubnyk said. ”We haven’t done that. We talked about this is an important game for us. Tie game with two minutes left, that’s where we’re usually solid.”
NOTES: Minnesota D Jonas Brodin left in the second period with broken finger and did not return. Boudreau didn’t have another details on the injury after the game. … New Jersey was still without D Andy Greene and F Vernon Fiddler. Fiddler missed his 11th game with a lower-body injury, while Greene missed his seventh game with an upper-body injury. … Schneider had stopped 172 of 183 shots (.940 percent) over his previous seven starts. … The Wild is 13-5-1 against the Eastern Conference after going 13-16-3 against the East last season.
Devils: Return home to host the Montreal Canadiens on Friday.
Wild: Host the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday for the second game of a four-game homestand.