Reid Boucher set up a goal and scored the game-winner 7:13 into the third period, and the Devils edged the Oilers 2-1 on Tuesday to cap a night when the organization honoured the goalie who led them to three Stanley Cup championships.
“You don’t want to spoil that night by losing,” said Boucher, who has three game-winning goals in 13 games. “We’re also playing to stay in the playoff race right now. Those are two big points for us.”
Indeed, they were huge points for the Devils, who lost Monday to the New York Rangers and in shootouts with Washington and Toronto last week. New Jersey has 61 points, tied with Pittsburgh for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference with two months left in the regular season.
“We fed off the crowd energy but this was big. We hadn’t won in three games and this keeps us in the race,” forward Lee Stempniak said. “That’s the bigger picture for us.”
Adam Henrique also had a goal and an assist as the Devils sent the Oilers to their third straight loss.
Oilers coach Todd McLellan said his team needs to shoot more.
“We have to push the needle forward,” he added.
Special teams were the difference. The Devils converted on two of their five power plays and killed off all three Oilers chances with the extra man.
New Jersey has killed off 19 straight opponents’ power plays over the last five games.
“The penalty kill has been great since we came back from the break,” Henrique said. “It’s an area we wanted to improve, and an area we are going to need to be strong if we are going to get in here down the stretch and get big wins. Obviously, the power play coming through tonight was big. He (Boucher) had a huge goal for us at a big time in the game.”
Boucher’s winner came with Edmonton defenceman Adam Clendening off for delay of game.
The Devils worked the puck around and Jacob Josefson fanned on a shot in close at an open net. New Jersey kept the pressure on, however, and Boucher took a pass from Henrique in the right circle and ripped a shot past Talbot.
“I have to play better,” Talbot said. “I have to make those saves.”
The shot came from about the same spot where Boucher took the initial shot on Henrique’s goal midway through the first period.
“I was just trying to get pucks to the net,” Boucher said. “From that spot I didn’t see any openings to pass it and I just got pucks to the net and they found their way in.”
On the first goal, the puck seemed to hit off Stempniak and Talbot in front and landed a couple of feet in front of the crease. Henrique pounced on the rebound and jammed it home for his 18th goal.
The Oilers tied the score 66 seconds later on a great play by McDavid. He won a faceoff, skated around two players and found Benoit Pouliot to the left of Schneider. The forward sent the puck across the crease to Eberle for a shot into an open net and his 15th goal.
McDavid has two goals and five assists in five games since returning from an injured clavicle.
Schneider stopped Hall on a breakaway in the opening minute of the first period and turned away McDavid breaking in from the right side.
NOTES: Devils D Seth Helgeson and Oilers C Matt Hendricks entertained the crowd midway through the second period with a competitive fight. … The Oilers finished 1-3 on their road trip. They play their next six games at home, starting against Toronto on Thursday. … Pouliot has six points (two goals, four assists) in his last five games. … The Devils’ next game is Saturday at Philadelphia.