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Devils’ challenge versus Cory Schneider. What is the answer.?

Devils coach John Hynes offered goalie Cory Schneider a challenge.

Prior to Friday night, the Devils split their two goalies, Schneider and Keith Kinkaid, in all seven sets of back-to-back games this season. 

Hynes gave Schneider the net for the second straight night on Friday, and it paid off in a 5-2 win at the Prudential Center in Newark, where the Devils net minder saved 28 of the 30 shots he faced.

"We knew coming into the game that 35 probably had to be our best player," Hynes said. "Coming in off a back-to-back off a rested team, you need a goaltending performance. It's something we challenged him a little bit on. When you look at the back-to-backs, (Rangers goalie Henrik) Lundqvist played back-to-back against Washington and then us, and beat us. That's what we need. We need him to be our guy."

Schneider was ready from the word go, and he came up with several big stops over the course of the night. He stuffed two dangerous shots at the left post during a 5-on-3 power play for the Stars early in the third period to protect a one-goal lead, and he made a ridiculous diving glove save late in the game after they pulled goalie Kari Lehtonen.

The Devils' veteran goalie was sharp on Thursday despite taking a 2-1 overtime loss to Montreal, and he took the challenge of putting the Devils in a position to win with key forwards Taylor Hall, Kyle Palmieri and Marcus Johansson out with injuries again on Friday.

"It's almost an extension of that game," Schneider said. "So you gotta make sure you take care of yourself and have the energy, but I felt I competed hard tonight and working hard to find pucks. Sometimes it's better when you don't have any time to think and just go back and play. If they need me to play more back-to-backs, I've done it before and I can do it, and I love the opportunity."

The Devils now enter a stretch of the schedule where they don't play another back-to-back until Dec. 29 and 30, so Schneider could be looking at a heavy workload in the coming weeks.

Whenever the Devils call his number, he's ready to step in.

"You look at any No. 1 guy in the league, and they go on runs," Schneider said. "They go stretches where they play eight, nine, 10 in a row, 14 of 15 or whatever. It's the time of year where if I'm feeling good and I'm playing, you gotta earn the net.

"I've always said that, you've got to deserve to be in there and play well and I feel like I am right now. I can't let that waver. I can't just assume I'm going to play. I have to maintain a high level of play and give them a reason to keep playing me."



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