NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Cory Schneider made 33 saves, and the playoff-hopeful New Jersey Devils beat NHL-leading Nashville 3-1 on Tuesday night, sending the Predators to their season-worst fourth straight loss.
Adam Larsson and Eric Gelinas scored first-period goals in front of a sparse crowd that came out on a snowy night. Mike Cammalleri was awarded a goal with 1:14 remaining in the game.
Mike Fisher had the lone goal for Nashville (41-17-7), which entered the night with a league-leading 89 points. This is the Predators’ worst skid since last March. Backup goalie Carter Hutton made 21 saves for Nashville, which lost at the New York Rangers on Monday.
New Jersey started the night nine points behind Boston, holder of the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Devils improved to 6-1-1 in their last eight games.
They jumped out to a 2-0 lead only 3:57 in on goals by defensemen Larsson and Gelinas.
Larsson, the trailer on a Devils rush, took a pass from Patrik Elias and snapped a shot from the high slot past Hutton at 58 seconds.
It was the ninth straight game that Nashville surrendered the first goal.
The Predators’ deficit doubled when Gelinas scored a power-play goal with a blue line drive as Devils forward Steve Bernier screened Hutton.
New Jersey built the two-goal lead on three shots.
Predators coach Peter Laviolette called timeout after the second goal to settle his team while Hutton skated over the bench for a brief talk with No. 1 goalie Pekka Rinne.
Hutton didn’t allow another goal in the period as the Devils outshot the Predators 9-3. Nashville didn’t record its first shot until midway through the period.
The Predators’ only good scoring chance in the first came in the closing seconds as Schneider stopped a close-in try by Eric Nystrom.
Nystrom sustained a lower-body injury in the second period and didn’t return.
Whatever Laviolette said at intermission worked as the Predators dominated the second period.
Fisher made it 2-1 at 2:11, netting a rebound as Nashville swarmed the New Jersey crease.
It was second goal in three games for Fisher since his wife, country star Carrie Underwood, gave birth to the couple’s son on Friday.
Nashville took 12 of the first 14 shots in the second and finished and held a 21-6 edge in the frame.
Cammalleri was credited with the insurance goal when he was hooked down while breaking in on an empty net after Hutton had been pulled for an extra skater. He was awarded his team-leading 24th goal.
That extended Cammalleri’s point streak to seven games, in which he has six goals and three assists.
NOTES: Predators C Matt Cullen played in his 1,200th NHL game. … Former Devils D Anton Volchenkov remains on Nashville’s injured list with a lower-body injury. … Keith Kinkaid dressed as Schneider’s backup after missing four games due to a groin injury. … Devils rookie defenseman Damon Severson, who had been sidelined with a fractured ankle, played in his first game since Dec. 15. New Jersey dressed seven defensemen. Peter Harrold shifted from the blue line to right wing on the Devils’ fourth line. … The New Jersey scratches were RW Michael Ryder and LW Martin Havlat. Nashville scratched D Ryan Ellis and LW Taylor Beck.
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