WASHINGTON (AP) — Erik Haula and Dawson Mercer scored 37 seconds apart, trade deadline pickup Timo Meier had the shootout winner and the Devils beat the fading Washington Capitals 3-2 on Thursday night to keep pace in the Metropolitan Division playoff race.
Akira Schmidt made 20 saves in regulation and overtime and was a perfect 4-of-4 in the shootout to pick up his seventh win in 10 starts this season. Meier was the only player to score in the shootout, making up for a couple of recent penalties since joining the Devils.
The Devils have won five of seven and trail the first-place Carolina Hurricanes by just four points with 18 games left in the regular season. They’re 7-3-1 during Mercer’s 11-game scoring streak in which he has put up 19 points.
Washington has gone the other way, having lost nine of 12 around the team’s first trade deadline selloff in more than a decade. Darcy Kuemper played well, making 38 saves in regulation and overtime, but fell to 0-6-2 in his career against New Jersey, the only NHL team he has not beaten.
Trevor van Riemsdyk and Dylan Strome scored for the banged-up Capitals, who were without injured defensemen Nick Jensen and Martin Fehervary for a third consecutive game. Their already slim playoff hopes are evaporating with each passing day, and they now trail archrival Pittsburgh by five points for the second and final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
With Schmidt, Meier, captain Nico Hischier and defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler, New Jersey became the first team in NHL history to have four Switzerland-born players take part in a game. The Devils were already the first to have four Swiss players dress in a game. … Devils coach Lindy Ruff expect Curtis Lazar to join the team in Montreal after dealing with visa issues since being acquired from Vancouver. … Former Capitals goaltender Vitek Vanecekwho backed up Schmid, received a nice ovation from fans when shown on video screens in his first game back in Washington since being traded to New Jersey.
Devils: Visit the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.
Capitals: Visit the New York Islanders on Saturday night.