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Edmonton at New Jersey

Merrill's first career goal wins it in OT for Devils

CBSSports.com wire reports
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NEWARK, N.J. -- With the New Jersey Devils fighting for a playoff spot, Jon Merrill picked the perfect time to score his first NHL goal.

The rookie defenseman connected 2:34 into overtime, and the Devils snapped a two-game skid with a 2-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Friday night.

"You always dream of this kind of stuff when you're a little kid," the 22-year-old Merrill said. "After 20 games went by and I hadn't scored, I think those dreams went away a little bit. I knew it would come when it came. Tonight was a good opportunity."

The goal came in Merrill's 31st NHL game and was set up by Adam Henrique winning a battle in the corner and Michael Ryder getting the puck and finding Merrill all alone above the left circle for an uncontested shot against Ilya Bryzgalov.

"I saw that four guys kind of collapsed on Ryds," Merrill said. "I was calling for it and he made a great play. I was walking in all alone and fortunately it went in."

The win was the second in six games for New Jersey (2-2-2), and it ended a slide that saw the Devils lose the last two games in overtime after giving up the lead late in the third period.

"It was awesome for him to get his first goal in overtime," said Henrique, who might have gotten away with a holding-the-stick penalty just before the goal. "It's such an important win for the team. That's one he's going to remember for the rest of his career."

Cory Schneider made 19 saves and Andrei Loktionov scored in regulation for the Devils, who play Saturday night at Washington in their final game before the Olympic break.

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 won't play again until Feb. 27.

"We found different ways to get points in this stretch," defenseman Justin Schultz said. "We got some solid goaltending. We've improved our game against these teams that are battling for playoff spots."

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.

Notes

Schultz played in his 100th NHL game. ... Martin Brodeur has been the Devils' backup goalie 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.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.
 
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Jon Merrill nabs the first goal of his NHL career and he makes it count, scoring 2:34 into overtime.  (USATSI)
Jon Merrill nabs the first goal of his NHL career and he makes it count, scoring 2:34 into overtime. (USATSI)
Scoreboard
Edmonton (20-33-7)10001
New Jersey  (24-21-13) «10012
Three Stars
J. Merrill
NJ


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 0
C. Schneider
NJ


Saves: 19
Save Pct.: .950
I. Bryzgalov
EDM


Saves: 22
Save Pct.: .917

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Scoring Summary
1ST PERIOD
11:01 - Andrei Loktionov (4), Wrist Shot. Assist: Salvador, Jagr
11:30 - Taylor Hall (20), Wrist Shot. Assist: Yakupov, Nugent-Hopkins
2ND PERIOD
None
3RD PERIOD
None
OT
02:34 - Jon Merrill (1), Slap Shot. Assist: Ryder, Henrique
Penalty Summary
1ST PERIOD
13:02Zubrus, 2 min, Tripping
2ND PERIOD
01:23Greene, 2 min, High sticking
02:20Perron, 2 min, Hooking
06:13Fraser, 2 min, Boarding
3RD PERIOD
09:25Hemsky, 2 min, Tripping
10:59Henrique, 2 min, Hooking
OT
None
Shots On Goal
 123T
EDM56819
NJ810523
Goalies
GoalieMINSSGA
Ilya Bryzgalov 62:34222
Cory Schneider 62:34191
Game Information
Attendance - 16592
Referees - Chris Rooney, Frederick L'Ecuyer
Linesmen - Steve Barton, Brad Lazarowich
 
Other Games
NYR 4 Final
Pitt 3
Fla 1 Final
Car 5
Chi 0 Final
Pho 2
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SJ 3