NEWARK, N.J. — Cory Schneider and the New Jersey Devils are aware that analysts didn’t think much of their chances to qualify for the post-season.
It has been something of a rallying point for a team that now finds itself among Eastern Conference teams jockeying for playoff positioning.
“Everyone has written us off,” Schneider said after he made nine of his 26 saves in the third period to lead the Devils to a 4-2 over the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night.
“It’s up to us. We can’t sit here and complain no one takes us seriously because we have to keep winning,” he said. “It seems every team around us keeps winning and every team is in the mix.
“You can definitely play yourself out of the playoffs but you can’t play yourself in. You have to keep your head above water and have some fun down the stretch.”
Adam Larsson, Lee Stempniak, Reid Boucher and Andy Greene scored for the Devils, who have won two straight after dropping three in a row.
“We talked about the importance of this game and next three heading into the (All-Star) break,” Stempniak said. “The next 15 to 20 games are going to be huge setting us up for a playoff push and there’s a lot of urgency to get these wins.”
The same theory was echoed by the Flames, who have lost four of five to drop to 20-21-3.
“We’ve put ourselves in a little bit of a hole. I believe in this team, I believe we can get out of it,” said Kris Russell, who scored for Calgary along with Sean Monahan. Jonas Hiller stopped 22 shots.
“It’s up to us to play a full 60,” Russell said.
Larsson opened the scoring at 5:12 with his second of the season, and his first since scoring the decider in the Devils’ 3-2 overtime win over Arizona on Oct. 20.
Calgary drew even at 9:16 on Monahan’s power-play goal. It his 14th of the season, but only his second in 12 games.
But the Devils used a 17-second span early in the second to regain control. Stempniak (57 seconds) and Boucher (1:14) scored back-to-back goals to give the Devils a 3-1 lead.
Called up from AHL Albany on Jan. 15, Boucher has scored in two straight games. He has two goals in five games this season, and has five goals and six assists for 11 points in 39 career NHL games.
“I’ve always been a goal scorer,” said Boucher.
“It’s just getting to those spots to score goals. I’m feeling a little bit more comfortable doing that and feel good about my shot.”
Calgary wouldn’t go quietly, as Russell’s power play goal at 15:56 of the second cut the deficit to 3-2. Russell beat Schneider with a quick shot from the slot, while the Devils were trying to kill penalties to David Schlemko and Adam Henrique.
Russell’s goal energized the Flames, who peppered Schneider in the third period. Calgary outshot New Jersey 9-3 in the period, but Greene’s empty netter at 18:59 was the only goal.
“Ran out of time,” Flames coach Bob Hartley said.