NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — If the New Jersey Devils want to get back to the playoffs, coach Pete DeBoer said his best players had to step up for the stretch run.
In their first game after the Olympic break, that's exactly what the goal-starved Devils got.
Adam Henrique scored twice, Jaromir Jagr netted the 699th goal of his career and Patrik Elias had a goal and two assists to lead New Jersey to a 5-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night.
"It's not rocket science," Elias said. "We could have said that about 20 other guys. We're not scoring enough going into the break. We were scoring one or two goals and losing. That's not enough to win a hockey game."
The Devils got more than enough in the first period as Ryane Clowe ignited a three-goal outburst in a 2:45 span early in the period. It marked only the second time this season New Jersey opened a game with three goals in the opening 20 minutes.
"I think we stressed it (scoring) for a week and to score three early gives you some confidence," Clowe said. "The key is, and I think it is overlooked, you can't play uptight and you can't worry about it. You have to play free and loose and to be able to score two on the power play and one short-handed was big."
The biggest goal of the contests might have been Henrique's with 18 seconds left in the second period.
Columbus had drawn within a goal at 3-2 on goals by Artem Anisimov and Marian Gaborik and it had a power play late in the period.
However, Elias alley-ooped a pass to Henrique for a breakaway goal after defenseman Jack Johnson could not handle a puck at the point.
"That's a super skill play," DeBoer said of the pass. "Not many guys in the world can make that pass."
Henrique finished it off with a shot between Sergei Bobrovsky's pads for his 16th goal of the season.
"I think it took a little wind out of their sails, going back up by two heading into the third," Henrique said after the third two-goal game of his career.
Cory Schneider made 17 saves as New Jersey salvaged the final game of its four-game season series with Columbus (1-2-1).
The Devils, who had the NHL's second-fewest goals (135) before the break, never trailed after the rare goal binge.