"You always dream about that kind of stuff when you're a little
kid," Merrill said, "but I think after 20 games went by and I hadn't
scored, those dreams kind of went away a little bit."
They came true Friday night. Merrill scored his first career goal
with 2:26 remaining in overtime to give the New Jersey Devils a 2-1
win over the Edmonton Oilers in front of an announced sellout crowd
at the Prudential Center.
The play began along the right-wing boards as Devils center Adam
Henrique and Oilers defenseman Martin Marincin became entangled.
Oilers left winger Taylor Hall skated to the boards to offer help,
which allowed an uncovered Merrill to take a pass from right winger
Michael Ryder and rip a shot past Oilers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov.
Edmonton coach Dallas Eakins and Hall thought Henrique could have
been called for a penalty before the winning goal.
"Hey, listen, you always see it one way from the bench and I thought
it should've been a call," Eakins said. "When it gets to overtime, I
think the refs are a little more apt to let the guys play."
Hall said, "I think that's a guaranteed penalty maybe in regulation.
In overtime, maybe it's a different circumstance. You can never
really tell what the referee sees. But I thought it was a hook. I
went over to help and it ends up in the back of our net."
The Devils had lost four of their previous five games, including the
last two in overtime after squandering third-period leads in the
final two minutes of each game. They sit in sixth place in the
log-jammed Metropolitan Division, three points behind the third
place Philadelphia Flyers.
"It's big, especially with some tough losses here of late in the
last minute," Henrique said of the victory. "I think we had a little
bit more pressure in overtime than (the past two games). It's just a
huge goal by Jonny."
The Oilers and Devils exchanged goals 29 seconds apart midway
through the first period.
Center Andrei Loktionov scored his first goal in 16 games to put the
Devils ahead 1-0 at 11:01. Right winger Jaromir Jagr drew four
Oilers to him near the blue line and moved the puck across to
defenseman Bryce Salvador, who found Loktionov near the right
faceoff circle for his fourth goal of the season.
[to top of second column]
Before the goal could be announced in the arena, Hall's 20th goal of
the season pulled the Oilers into a 1-1 tie. He finished a 2-on-1
rush after a perfect pass from right winger Nail Yakupov, who has
points in three straight games.
It was the only shot that would get past Devils goaltender Cory
Schneider, who made 19 saves in his season-high fifth straight
start. Devils coach Peter DeBoer said afterward that Schneider would
start Saturday night in Washington against the Capitals.
DeBoer used two words to describe Schneider's effort against the
Oilers: "Excellent; outstanding."
"He was great again," Henrique said. "He made big saves at key times
for us. The last few, it's tough, you feel for him, because he
played such a great game and he gave up two late. It's certainly
never his fault. We just got to get some more support for him. But
he's been awesome every time he goes in."
The Oilers head into the Olympic break 5-1-1 in their past seven
games. They are out of the playoff race in the Western Conference,
but they know it is important to play well down the stretch with an
eye toward next season.
"I think everyone is playing a (touch) harder," Hall said. "We're
winning more battles than we were earlier in the year and playing
with a little more intensity. It's a fun way to play. Tonight wasn't
the result we'd like, but as far as the way we're playing, I think
we have to continue it after the break.
"I think we'll win a lot more games than we'll lose if we play that
NOTES: Oilers D Justin Schultz played in his 100th career NHL game.
... The Oilers gave G Ben Scrivens a break after he played Thursday
against the New York Rangers. In three road games this season
against the Rangers and Devils, Scrivens stopped 98 of 99 shots. ...
Devils D Anton Volchenkov (lower body) missed his second straight
game. ... Devils C Andrei Loktionov played just 1:24 in the third
period and had an ice pack on a hand in the locker room after the
game. Coach Peter DeBoer, however, said Loktionov was not injured.
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