NEWARK, N.J. – The New Jersey Devils are so bad in shootouts, coach Pete DeBoer doesn’t mind seeing his team take chances in the five-minute overtime.
It got them a much-needed win Thursday night against the Minnesota Wild after they blew a two-goal, third-period lead.
Defenceman Andy Greene scored from in close 2 minutes into the extra period and the Devils snapped a three-game losing streak with a 4-3 victory over the Wild in Zach Parise’s first game back in New Jersey against his former teammates.
“We’ve asked our D all year to create offence for us,” said DeBoer, whose team has lost all eight shootouts this season and an NHL-record 12 straight dating to last season. “I think we have a little more urgency in overtime as a group because of our shootout record. There isn’t any secret about that, so you get a little more aggressive.”
Adam Henrique and Patrik Elias each had three assists and combined to set up Greene. Elias carried the puck from his own zone into the Wild end and sent a pass through the crease that Henrique nudged toward goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. Greene got the rebound and scored his second game-winner in overtime this season.
Greene took a chance on the play.
“I actually kick it out of the corner to start the rush and I thought about changing, but then I kind of saw we had a three-on-two,” Greene said. “I supported it and the puck obviously squirted through their back door and I got some good lumber on it and put it home.”
Greene didn’t care that the win wasn’t pretty.
“It doesn’t matter at this point,” he said. “As long as we get ourselves a chance to get two points in a game, who cares how it happens? Two points is two points.”
Despite the win, the Devils are five points out of the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 12 games left in the regular season.
“I liked how we played tonight,” DeBoer said. “As long as we can stay fresh and energized and bring that game, there’s no reason we can’t keep winning.”
Michael Ryder, Mark Fayne and Jaromir Jagr also scored for New Jersey, which played with a lot more energy with their playoff hopes fading in the wake of the losing streak.
Parise, Mikael Granlund and Matt Cooke tallied for the Wild, who have points in 17 of 21 games.
The Wild, who have lost their last four games that have gone to overtime or a shootout, were limited to 10 shots in the first 40 minutes, but rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the third period to tie the game at 3-all on goals by Granlund and Cooke.
Granlund closed the gap to 3-2, beating Cory Schneider with a bad-angle shot from low in the left circle midway through the period.
Cooke tied the game with 4:32 to play, deflecting a slap shot by Marco Scandella 2 seconds after a penalty to Travis Zajac expired.
Parise, who was booed every time he touched the puck, got the Wild on the scoreboard with a power-play goal when he deflected a shot by Ryan Suter 21 seconds into the third.
“To come back in the third period down against these guys, down 2-0 and 3-1, and we were able to claw back and get a point. There is a little bit of a silver lining,” Parise said. “We’ve got to turn that corner and start winning some of these games that go into extra time.”
Ryder opened the scoring with 3:02 left in the first, snapping a 23-game goal drought by taking a pass from Elias and ripping a shot past Bryzgalov from between the circles.
The Devils had a chance to add to their lead when Wild defenceman Nate Prosser was given a somewhat iffy five-minute major and a game misconduct for elbowing Devils forward Tim Sestito behind the Minnesota net.
Minnesota, however, had a great chance to tie the game early in the major when Parise had a breakaway after defenceman Jon Merrill fell at the Wild blue line. Parise skated in alone but Schneider smothered his shot.
Minnesota survived the power play, but New Jersey went up 2-0 midway through the second period on Fayne’s short-handed goal, which was set up by Henrique and Elias.
Parise’s 24th goal of the season cut the deficit to 2-1, but Jagr got his 23rd of the season a little more than three minutes later on a power play.
NOTES: The Devils dressed seven defencemen after making forwards Damien Brunner and Steve Bernier healthy scratches. … Sestito had to be helped off the ice after the major penalty and he did not return. … This was the Wild’s first game in New Jersey since Jan. 4, 2011.