COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ryan Graves scored off a feed from Michael McLeod in front of the net with 1.4 seconds left, and the New Jersey Devils beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 on Tuesday night for their fourth win in five games.
“Normally, I wouldn’t be there,” Graves said. “I was driving the net and I saw it pop through a hole. It was a great play by (McCleod).”
Yegor Sharangovich and Jesper Bratt had the other goals for the Devils, and Graves also had an assist. Vitek Vanecek stopped 31 shots for New Jersey, which remains three points behind first-place Carolina and moved five ahead of the New York Rangers in the Metropolitan Division.
“I think the one thing we’ve done well is we’ve stayed in games when games have been tight,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. “To win the game where Mike McLeod comes off the bench, makes a great play, and Graves joins the play, just the awareness to know the clock is ticking down. Heck of a play by Michael.”
Adam Boqvist had a goal and an assist, and Johnny Gaudreau scored for Columbus, which has lost five of six, including three straight at home, and continues to sit last in the NHL. Elvis Merzlikins stopped 29 shots.
The teams traded goals through the first two periods, scoring late and early.
Sharangovich made it 1-0 at 10:46 of the first and Gaudreau tied it on a power-play goal with 1.3 second left in the period.
Bratt’s go-ahead goal came 7 seconds into the second period before Boqvist tied it again at 4:41 with his first goal of the season.
“I thought we played excellent,” Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen said. “The third period got a little away from us as far turnovers, the puck management a bit. We had three chances in the third period up until they scored the goal. Against that team, what they can create and been doing it all year, that was a heck of an effort.”
The Devils own the best road record in the NHL at 20-3-3. The franchise record for road wins in a season is 28 (28-10-3) in 1998-99.
WAIT AND SEE
Blue Jackets defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov was held out of the lineup for trade-related reasons.
DECADE IN THE MAKING
The Devils have taken two games from Columbus with one matchup remaining, giving them a win in the season series for the first time since 2011-12, when the teams met just once.
New Jersey: Visits St. Louis on Thursday night.
Columbus: Hosts Winnipeg on Thursday night.