Game 45 Recap: Devils Catch a Slipstream and Ground the Jets
(headline submitted by @radametz)
Saturday’s 2-1 win in Winnipeg was a tough game where the Devils battled all game. To be honest, it wasn’t their best game of the season, but they managed to win. Tonight, which was their first game back home since a 3-1-0 road trip through Pittsburgh and western Canada, the Devils made life a little easier for themselves, scoring early and often. It wasn’t a perfect game, but it was a game that everyone can feel good about. It was also Jacob Josefson’s first game back in the NHL since injuring his clavicle back in October against San Jose. Josefson was unable to record a point with 12:58 ice time, however eight Devils recorded points and four of them put up multi-point games tonight, including a two-goal performance from Ilya Kovalchuk.
The first period was somewhat sloppy for the most part, as neither team was able to generate high-quality chances early on. The Devil who did come close to scoring early was David Clarkson. He had a number of chances in front of the net, but hit the post on the power play and missed the net on another good scoring chance. Then, with just over a minute remaining in the first period, Zach Parise deflected a Winnipeg shot from the point down and sent Ilya Kovalchuk alone on a breakaway. Kovy froze Jets goaltender Chris Mason and beat him to give the Devils a late 1-0 lead, in which they carried into the intermission.
That goal must have sparked the team, because they came out and absolutely dominated the second period. 90 seconds into the middle period, Petr Sykora one-timed Henrik Tallinder’s pass and it beat Mason cleanly to double the Devils’ lead. Just over three minutes later, David Clarkson went back to his patented toe-drag and somehow, the puck beat Mason. The Devils made it 3-0. Less than three minutes after Clarkson’s 16th of the season, Ilya Kovalchuk picked up his second of the game and 19th goal of the season. Winnipeg may have been fatigued, having played their third game in four nights, but the Devils were able to take advantage of them.
Once the Devils made it 4-0, they seemed to focus on preserving Martin Brodeur’s bid for his first shutout of the season. Unfortunately, Tobias Enstrom’s shot from the point beat Brodeur eight minutes into the third period, but three minutes later, Patrik Elias buried a rebound of Anton Volchenkov’s shot to make it 5-1, which held as the final. Brodeur stopped 20 of 21 shots he faced. Although the Devils started out a little slow, and couldn’t seem to connect on consecutive passes, once Kovalchuk scored at the end of the first period, they took the game over and never looked back.
Some game notes: Patrik Elias was honored before the game started for recently playing his 1,000th NHL game (all with the Devils). He put up a goal and two assists, which is exactly what he did on the night of his 1,000th game. He’s averaging a point-per-game this season (44 points in 44 games), as is Ilya Kovalchuk (40 points in 40 games). David Clarkson scored his 16th goal of the season tonight, which is one shy of his career high in goals. Brodeur is still without a shutout this season. He has never gone this late in a season (January 17th) without at least one shutout in his career as the Devils’ starting goaltender. Ilya Kovalchuk now has 60 goals as a New Jersey Devil. He has not recorded a hat trick as a Devil, despite tonight being his fifth multi-goal game as a Devil. Devils defensemen continue to put up points of late. Tonight, Kurtis Foster, Henrik Tallinder and Anton Volchenkov found the score-sheet, and Foster finished with a +3 plus-minus rating (as did Patrik Elias and Petr Sykora).
The Devils will continue their homestand Thursday night against the Boston Bruins. The team certainly remembers how Boston blew the Devils out on January 4th, 6-1, despite giving the Bruins a tough time in Boston earlier in the season.