Devils center Brian Boyle, left, and Canucks right wing Jake Virtanen battle for the puck on Nov. 1, 2017 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Derek Cain/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Vancouver Canucks are probably glad they traded Cory Schneider to an Eastern Conference team.
Schneider made 37 saves for his first shutout this season and the 24th of his career as the New Jersey Devils defeated Vancouver 2-0 on Wednesday night.
Dealt to the Devils for the ninth pick in the 2013 NHL draft, which the Canucks used to select center Bo Horvat, the 31-year-old Schneider improved to 5-1-2 against his former team — including five straight wins — to go with a .940 save percentage.
“I’ve always loved playing in this city and this building,” Schneider said. “I’ve always felt really comfortable and at home here. It was fun.”
Jimmy Hayes scored and Drew Stafford added an empty-net goal for New Jersey (9-2-0), which surpassed the 1993-94 squad for the best start to a season in franchise history.
“It’s nice to see the guys get rewarded for a lot of hard work,” coach John Hynes said. “We (talked) in training camp about the way we wanted to play and the work ethic we wanted to have.”
The first-place Devils have won three straight and remain the only NHL team with a perfect road record (5-0-0).
Taylor Hall added two assists and has three goals and six assists in his last eight games against the Canucks.
“We’ve been scoring a lot of goals,” Schneider said. “But it felt like it was time to spin a game like this and get my teammates some help.”
Jacob Markstrom made 24 saves for Vancouver (6-4-2), which had 80 shot attempts to New Jersey’s 42. The Canucks have lost two in a row, including Monday’s 2-1 overtime setback against Dallas.
“They had 21 blocked shots,” Vancouver coach Travis Green said. “We might have cut our shots a little too fine, but you are either shooting to score or shooting to get a rebound.
“We had a lot of both.”
New Jersey snapped a scoreless tie at 10:09 of the second period after Canucks rookie Brock Boeser had his shot blocked in the offensive zone.
The Devils raced the other way, with Markstrom stopping Hall’s initial effort on a 2-on-1, but the puck bounced past Vancouver’s backcheckers right to Hayes, who fired in a one-timer for his third of the season.
“Bit of a knuckler,” Markstrom said. “I got a little eager to get out and get it. It kind of curved in. You want that back, especially in a game like this.”
The Canucks came close to grabbing the lead earlier in the period when Daniel Sedin’s redirection off a slap pass from twin brother Henrik from the high slot though a screen hit the base of the post and stayed out.
Schneider had to be really sharp on a four-save sequence with under three minutes to go in the period after the Devils went ahead, saving Alexander Burmistrov’s one-timer before also stopping two off the stick of Sam Gagner and another from Alex Biega.
“Cory was the difference tonight. He was fantastic,” Hynes said. “The result would not have happened if Cory didn’t play as well as he did.”
Wednesday marked the return to the New Jersey lineup of forward Brian Boyle, who announced on Sept. 19 he was battling myelogenous leukemia, a form of blood and bone marrow cancer. The 32-year-old takes medication when he wakes up and before he goes to bed, and had been practicing with the Devils since last week.
“The guys in here, the last six weeks, whether they know it or not … it’s just been a tremendous boost of energy for me,” said Boyle, who finished with 15:19 of ice time in his first game since April 23. “I can’t thank them enough.”
Playing just 11 forwards after Marcus Johansson was injured less than a minute into the first period, Schneider and the Devils killed off two Canucks power plays in the third.
Vancouver kept coming, but Sven Baertschi shoveled wide of an open net off a feed from Horvat.
With Markstrom on the bench for an extra attacker, Schneider stoned Derek Pouliot with just more than a minute to play and then Daniel Sedin with 42 seconds left before Stafford scored his fourth into an empty net to seal it.
“We should have won this one,” Daniel Sedin said. “Give (Schneider) a lot of credit.
“When he’s on his game, he’s really good.”
NOTES: Johansson crashed into the boards awkwardly 57 seconds into the game and did not return. He will be re-evaluated Thursday, Hynes said. … Canucks D Alexander Edler took part in the morning skate and is getting closer to a return after injuring his knee Oct. 12.
Devils: At Edmonton on Friday night.
Canucks: Host Pittsburgh on Saturday.
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