VANCOUVER -- New Jersey Devils goalie Cory Schneider returned to Vancouver to a standing ovation from Canucks fans. Two goals later, that same crowd was jeering him.
Clearly both sides have moved on.
Schneider was just disappointed he didn’t get to move on with his first win for his new team.
Defenseman Jason Garrison spoiled Schneider’s return with a screen-aided point shot 2:18 into overtime that lifted the Canucks to a 3-2 win over their former goalie at Rogers Arena on Tuesday.
“I'd like to think that came from a place of love, but probably not,” Schneider said of the jeers, which followed cheers for a video board introduction at the opening puck drop. “It was fun, a great environment, great atmosphere, really nice of them to show that at the start. It was a nice touch, but once the puck dropped, we had our hands full.”
Jaromir Jagr scored in the first period, then assisted on Patrik Elias’ goal to make it 2-0 less than eight minutes into the second period. But Daniel Sedin started the comeback with a goal of his own before he assisted on Alexander Edler's game-tying goal a couple of minutes later, setting up Garrison’s overtime heroics.
"It's just fortunate finding the lanes there, just so long as I don't slow it down and keep shooting the puck and create space out there for myself,” Garrison said of his third goal in four games. “We have such good forwards that do a good job in front of the net down low."
Schneider, who finished with 30 saves in his first game in Vancouver since the surprising trade that sent him to the Devils, never saw the high shot from the point with Mike Santorelli standing in front of him.
“[I] looked one way and next thing you knew, it was in the net,” Schneider said. “[There was] some traffic, and I didn’t work hard enough to find it.”
Roberto Luongo, who was just as surprised to be staying with the Canucks as Schneider was to leave, finished with 21 saves in the battle with his good friend and former teammate.
“Obviously, we spent many years together, so it was nice to battle it out head-to-head,” Luongo said. “Somebody has to win, somebody has to lose. He was able to get a point for his team. He played extremely well. He was a big reason why they got it to overtime."
Despite that, Schneider and the winless Devils were disappointed to blow a lead for a second straight night, falling to 0-1-3 in the process.
“It’s frustrating because we are getting ones and we need twos,” said Schneider, who was watching Martin Brodeur play when New Jersey blew a 3-0 third-period lead on the way to a 5-4 shootout loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Monday. “We’ve been in pretty much every game and controlled parts of them, but haven’t been able to put 60 or 65 minutes together. We’ve got to start putting W’s on the board.”
The Canucks have been doing just that, winning three straight games since a season-opening loss to the San Jose Sharks. And they’ve come back from two-goal deficits to win their last two in overtime.
“You don't want to spot them a 2-0 lead, but I appreciate how they just stay with it,” Canucks coach John Tortorella said. “There was no panic on our bench. We just started playing a little quicker and a little simpler.”
The goalies stole the show early, trading big saves.
Schneider rewarded the early applause from the Rogers Arena crowd by doing the splits to rob captain Henrik Sedin on a rebound 6:40 in and throwing out the left skate to deny Brad Richardson later in the first period.
Not to be outdone, Luongo made great saves on four of the first five shots he faced, holding off Jagr with the left pad on a rebound in tight, stretching out to get the right pad on a Travis Zajac 2-on-1 chance and denying Dainius Zubrus on a one-timer from the top of the crease.
“With Louie at the other end, you have to match him save for save, because he’s not going to give you much,” Schneider said.
Luongo came across quickly from right to left to squeeze former teammate Steve Bernier’s wide open chance from the left slot with 1:45 left in the first period, but could only get a piece of Jagr’s quick shot after sprawling in the other direction just 37 seconds later.
Playing back-to-back nights, the 41-year-old Jagr made no mistake from the right circle, snapping his 683rd career goal under the arm of the sprawling goalie before he could get across and set.
“I got no problem,” Jagr said with a smile after playing 18 minutes and finishing plus-2 against the Canucks. “I used to play like that all the time. The memory is coming back.”
Playing his 100th NHL game, Schneider added a couple more great saves early in the second before Elias extended the lead on a couple good bounces. The first, off a referee’s skate, gave him the puck on the goal line and the second, off a Canucks player’s skate, deflected the puck in through Luongo’s legs. But again, the Devils couldn’t hold the lead.
“We have to stop playing bad with the lead,” Jagr said. “It's not easy to get a lead in this League and we had it the last two games, 3-0 and 2-0, and we still get only two [total] points, so we should get more than that.”
Asked what needs to change, Jagr responded: “There’s million people got million ideas. I think even if we got the lead, we should hold the puck a little more when we have the chance, not just throw it away because we have the lead. That way you give the puck to dangerous players, but that’s what we did. Just have to be a little smarter I guess.”
The Canucks sparked their comeback by doing something Tortorella wants to see his players do more: throw pucks to the net.
Daniel Sedin did that and had it go in off a Devils defenseman past a screened Schneider. And after a pretty passing play to send Edler in alone, Garrison scored the winner by getting the puck on net.
The common denominator was Santorelli, who was a surprise to even make the team. He scored twice, including the overtime winner, in the comeback win over the Calgary Flames on Sunday.
On Tuesday, Santorelli was on the ice for all three goals against the Devils after being moved up to play with the Sedin twins. He parked in front of Schneider to set the screen on Garrison’s game-winning goal.
"Right now, everything I do with him, he does great things for us," Tortorella said.
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