Merzlikins makes 40 saves as Blue Jackets edge Devils
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Boone Jenner and Eric Robinson scored first-period goals and Elvis Merzlikins made 37 saves — including 20 in the third period — as the Columbus Blue Jackets downed the New Jersey Devils 2-1 on Friday.
Columbus won for the second-straight time after a nine-game losing streak while New Jersey lost its third in a row and for the sixth time in seven games.
“We’ve seen him since the beginning of the season. He’s been really good for us," Blue Jackets coach Pascal Vincent said of his winning netminder. “Elvis has been through a lot and it’s good to see the team regrouping around him and playing the right way in front of him.”
Jenner opened the scoring at 10:04 with his 11th of the season. Johnny Gaudreau had the assist. Jenner has 14 points overall.
Columbus had a four-minute power play late in the first period when Holtz was called for high-sticking but New Jersey snuffed it out.
Robinson followed that with his first goal and point of the season at 19:23, beating Devils netminder Akira Schmid on a breakaway. The 28-year-old forward, who played for Princeton and is a New Jersey native, has been with Columbus for parts of seven seasons. Justin Danforth and Erik Gudbranson assisted.
“Whenever you play you want to make an impact,'' Robinson said. "To get a goal was a really good feeling. For the team to come together and get a win on the road, everyone bought in.”
The Devils and their league-best power-play had a chance at 12:58 of the second but generated little against Merzlikins.
“That was just a tough result,'' Jack Hughes said. “We didn’t generate anything. We didn’t score. We didn’t execute.”
New Jersey came out sluggishly against Columbus for the matinee start, generating only six shots in the first.
“I didn't like our start,'' Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. ”And I didn't like that late first-period goal. Those are killers."
The Devils dominated the third but could not solve Merzlikins for a tying goal.
“I’m going out there to have fun and do well my job,'' Merzlikins said. “I was reading the game well and my defensemen were cleaning the vision for me, so that was perfect.”
Schmid made 26 saves in the defeat including a breakaway stop on Gaudreau midway through the third.
“We have to go out and play better,'' added Jack Hughes, who had eight shots on goal in his third game back after missing five contests with an upper-body injury.
Former Devils defenseman Damon Severson was not able to play against his former team because of an upper body injury. Severson signed an eight-year contract with Columbus last summer after nine seasons with New Jersey.
Devils: Hosting Buffalo Sabres on Saturday.
Blue Jackets: Visiting Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday. ___
AP NHL: https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL