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Merrill’s First Career Goal Wins it as Devils Defeat Oilers

Coming into the game against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday night the New Jersey Devils had blown three straight late third period leads. Although, they had received points in each of those games including an overtime win at Dallas, the Devils were looking to build some momentum headed into the two week Olympic break and end a two game losing streak.

Jon Merrill had been just looking to help the team anyway he could, but he picked a good time to record his first career NHL goal, as he scored on a slap shot off a feed from Michael Ryder 2:34 into overtime to give the Devils a much needed 2-1 victory.

“It’s good to get the first one. Huge win for the team as well. That is the most important,” the rookie defenseman Merrill said. “You always dream about that kind of stuff when you’re a little kid”

“I feel great for him. He has been great for us since he has been up”, said Adam Henrique who had an assist on Merrill’s game winner. “He is a great guy to have in the room. It’s nice to see him finally get it”

Cory Schneider stopped nineteen shots for the Devils. “Were comfortable in these kinds of games, low scoring and it was really big and important that we got that extra goal in overtime,” said Schneider who earned his eleventh win of the season.

The Devils goalie was also happy to see his rookie defenseman pick up his first career goal but more importantly win the game for the team. “That was huge. He has been so solid for us, so consistent I think as a young guy just stepping right in out of college is not an easy thing to do”

Schneider, will be net Saturday night when the Devils travel to Washington to play the Capitals. He will have started five straight games headed into that game, but despite the heavy workload recently, he is not showing any signs of tiring.

“He made some big saves”, said Devils Captain Bryce Salvador, who recorded an assist on the Devils first goal. “He gave us a chance to get the extra point”, Salvador added.

The Devils had not played since losing Monday night in overtime against the Colorado Avalanche, and Devils coach Peter DeBoer saw some room for improvement from his team.

“It was a grind. For being off the amount of time we had off, I didn’t think we were real sharp which is a little disappointing”

The Devils opened up the scoring eleven minutes into the first period as Andrei Loktionov scored a goal for the first time since December 4th.

Loktionov was moved to the Devils top line just this week by DeBoer replacing Travis Zajac and the move looked to pay off early, however the Oilers would counter just 29 seconds later to tie the game at 1-1 on Taylor Hall’s twentieth goal of the season, where it would remain until the Merrill goal.

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