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UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Goaltender Cory Schneider made 30 saves and center Travis Zajac scored a painful game-winning goal with 6:57 left Saturday night as the New Jersey Devils edged the New York Islanders 2-1 at the Nassau Coliseum.
Zajac was credited with the goal when a slap shot by defenseman Marek Zidlicky bounced off Zajac's left shoulder and fluttered past Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov. Zajac crumbled to the ice as the goal light went on and was hunched over in pain as he went to the Devils bench.
Schneider made 10 of his saves in the first 10 minutes of the third period before the Islanders finally tied it on a goal by center Frans Nielsen. But the Devils needed less than three minutes to re-take the lead on a goal set up by a pass from right winger Jaromir Jagr to Zidlicky.
Center Adam Henrique also scored for the Devils, who stopped a two-game losing streak to improve to .500 (16-16-8).
Nabokov made 23 saves for the Islanders (11-21-7), who were trying to win two in a row for the first time since Nov. 1-2.
The Islanders played without captain and leading scorer John Tavares, the center whose Ironman streak ended at 246 games due to a lower-body injury. Tavares' streak, which dated back to Oct. 16, 2010, was the fifth-longest in team history.
While the Islanders lost their captain, the Devils got theirs back as defenseman Bryce Salvador returned after missing 30 games due to a foot injury.
The Devils took the lead 8:23 into the game when Henrique capped an impressive New Jersey rush by firing a point blank shot past Nabokov.
Henrique picked the puck up in the Islanders' zone and passed to right winger Reid Boucher, who immediately tipped it back to the trailing Michael Ryder. The right winger then passed to Henrique, who scored despite being blanked by Islanders right winger Cal Clutterbuck.
The Islanders continued peppering Schneider as the third period began and a Devils turnover deep in their own zone finally allowed New York to tie the game just beyond the midway point of the period.
Left winger Thomas Vanek picked off the puck and passed to right winger Kyle Okposo, who was falling as he dished it to Nielsen. The center then beat Schneider over the left shoulder.
NOTES: With C John Tavares out due to a lower-body injury, C Frans Nielsen has the Islanders' longest active games-played streak. He played in his 169th straight game Saturday. ... Tavares has played in 329 out of a possible 333 games since making his NHL debut in 2009. He was sidelined for three games in October 2010 due to a concussion. ... In addition to Tavares, the Islanders also scratched LW Eric Boulton and D Aaron Ness. ... The Islanders end the calendar year with games at Minnesota on Sunday and Boston on Tuesday. They will practice Monday at the University of Minnesota, where Ness, RW Kyle Okposo and LW Thomas Vanek all played as collegians. ... To make room for D Bryce Salvador on the active roster, the Devils assigned C Tim Sestito to their AHL affiliate in Albany. ... The Devils scratched C Jacob Josefson, LW Mattias Tedenby and D Anton Volchenkov. Josefson and Tedenby were healthy scratches while Volchenkov was out with what the Devils termed "total body soreness." ... New Jersey is off until it hosts Pittsburgh on New Year's Eve afternoon.