COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Andy Greene scored, Travis Zajac added an empty-net goal, and Cory Schneider made 33 saves for his fourth shutout of the season to lead the New Jersey Devils past the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-0 on Saturday night.
Playing their lone road game in a 10-game, 23-day stretch, the Devils won for the first time in four away games. They had lost their previous two games overall.
Curtis McElhinney made 19 saves for Columbus, which has lost five in a row (0-4-1). The Blue Jackets are .500 on the road (14-14-2) but just 12-17-2 at home.
Neither team could really afford a loss. New Jersey came in 12th in the East, nine points below the playoff cutoff. The Blue Jackets were four points behind the Devils in 13th, 13 points back and needing five teams.
The Devils didn’t record their first shot until almost 15 minutes had elapsed, but Columbus couldn’t get of its drives past Schneider.
New Jersey netted all the goals it would need in the first period.
Patrik Elias slid a rink-wide pass to Greene, streaking up the left wing. His rising wrist shot from the left circle at 15:47 flew over the outstretched glove of McElhinney for the defenseman’s second goal in his 63rd game this season.
The Blue Jackets, who had the first eight shots, didn’t have any over the final 9 minutes of the period.
Columbus was pressing late — Schneider had turned away a shot by rookie Alexander Wennberg in the final minute — when Zajac scored his 10th goal to ice it.
Schneider earned his 16th NHL shutout. He blanked Arizona three games earlier.
David Clarkson made his Columbus debut against a familiar foe. He scored 97 goals and had 73 assists in 426 games with New Jersey before signing as a free agent with Toronto three years ago.
Clarkson was acquired in a strange deal — a swap of bad contracts — on Thursday. The Blue Jackets traded forward Nathan Horton, unlikely to play again due to a degenerative condition in his back, for Clarkson, who was unpopular in Toronto because he was making $5.5 million and had been largely unproductive.
Clarkson started on the top line alongside All-Stars Nick Foligno and Ryan Johansen.
NOTES: The Devils did not skate in the morning following a 3-2 home loss in overtime to Boston on Friday night. … The Blue Jackets, now with an NHL-high 392 man-games lost to injury, got good news when Sergei Bobrovsky, the Vezina Trophy winner in 2013 as the NHL’s top goalie, was activated off the injured list. After missing 15 games with a groin injury, he backed up McElhinney. … Columbus welcomed back D Dalton Prout, who had missed nine games with an upper-body injury. But C Brandon Dubinsky didn’t play due to concussion symptoms. … The Blue Jackets were 0 for 3 on the power play and are just 2 of 45 in their last 17 games.
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