Game 64 Recap: Caps put a Moose-egg on the board

New Jersey Devils vs Washington Capitals

(headline by @kastrol)

Honorable mention headlines:

“DEVILS LOCK THE CAPS” (@radametz)

“Capital L for Washington” (@keahpa)

Well, how else do you start a recap on this night than to talk about Zach Parise’s night?  I’ll tell you how: you talk about Johan Hedberg!  As much as tonight was about the Devils’ offensive outburst, perhaps none of it would have happened if Troy Brouwer had scored on the 2-on-1 in the opening minutes of the game.  The momentum certainly turned when Hedberg made the big save.  Hedberg also stopped Joel Ward’s bid later on.  The Devils seemed to take control of the game once they got their first power play chance.  The Devils executed a nice passing play, as Patrik Elias fed David Clarkson from the right side to the bottom of the circle, and Clarkson spun around before feeding Zach Parise, and Parise one-timed his shot from along the goal line to give the Devils the lead.  Spoiler: that was the game-winning goal.

It wasn’t the only goal, however.  Late in the period, Ilya Kovalchuk came flying down the right wing and he wristed one that beat Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth, but the puck stopped on the goal line.  Parise punched it home for his second of the game.  The Devils still weren’t done.  As the Caps tried to clear their own zone, the puck bounced off David Clarkson and came right to Dainius Zubrus.  His initial shot was stopped by Neuvirth, but he stayed with it and backhanded the rebound home to make it 3-0 Devils.  Zubrus fell after the goal and did a reverse somersault to show off.  The Devils also dodged an injury bullet in the first period (and it wouldn’t be their only lucky break in that regard on this night), as Andy Greene took a huge hit from Alex Ovechkin.  Greene went to the locker room to have his hand checked, but he returned to the game.  The Devils were already without Alexei Ponikarovsky (foot) for this game.

So what did you guys think of the first period?  Here are a few tweets:

@Jim_Moretto: Cue the puns! Zubrus and I are both flipping happy with his team’s performance after one!

@the3musks: Loved that backflip by Zubie! Now that’s a goal celebration!!!

@angel121600: Best player of the 1st was Parise with the 2 goals. Best moment had to be Zubrus’s Olympic Gold worthy somersault!

@jorlando_26: The phrase “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” comes to mind. As long as we keep this up for 60 minutes, I like our chances.

The Devils probably expected the Caps to make a bigger push in the second period, but it was the Devils who started the second as the stronger team.  Three minutes in, Adam Henrique took the puck and led a 2-on-1 rush, then sent it to his right and Parise roofed it under the crossbar for the hat trick goal.  He scored three goals on three shots, and gave the Devils a commanding 4-0 lead early in the period.  Ilya Kovalchuk nearly made it 5-0, as he dove to get the puck on a partial breakaway.  Somehow, while laying on the ice, he managed a pretty strong shot on goal that Neuvirth stopped.  There was, however, a scary moment on this night, and had nothing to do with the scoreboard.  Parise, already with 3 goals in the game, was hit hard by Brooks Laich and was crunched between two Washington players.  He was very slow to get up, but returned for 43 seconds in the third period.  He was tested for a concussion, but all results came back normal.  The Devils did make it 5-0 after Zubrus took the puck away at the right point shorthanded and led a 2-on-1 rush.  Patrik Elias got behind Dennis Wideman, and Elias scored his 21st of the season.

Let’s see some tweets after the second period:

@jorlando_26: The team is clicking on all cylinders. Beautiful play all around. Keep it up and we’ll be able to add one to the win column.

@HeadUpKid13: Great period, blocking shots, scoring SHG’s, and playing as a team. Couldn’t of asked for a better period.

You also had your say as to whether Laich’s hit on Parise was dirty or not (the reaction was mixed):

@TheSaccAttack: cross check to the face = dirty

@SkooterMcGaven: In between, it was unintentional but his stick was pointing to the ceiling. His job to lower [his] hands.

@shadowfactory: Unfortunate, but when you’re scoring like that, naturally you’re a target.

@UberRobby: It was dirty because of the “sandwich.” It looked like they intentionally did that. Not cool.

@graceatblb: My Devils bias says “dirty” but really I think he got caught in a bad spot.

Shortly before the 3rd period began, the Devils announced that Parise was “fine,” and he returned to the bench.  He didn’t play at all 5-on-5, but that had a lot to do with the lopsided score and less to do with Parise’s health.  There was no scoring in the third period, and it was the period that featured very little push from the Capitals.  They were simply deflated.  It looked much more as if the Caps had been the team that played the night before against a very tough Boston Bruins team, when in fact the Devils had done just that.  Johan Hedberg finished with a 23-save shutout, which was the 20th shutout of his career, and third this season.  The win snaps the Devils’ season-high four game skid and moves them into a tie in points with the fifth place Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference.

Game notes: After Ilya Kovalchuk’s hat trick in mid-February, he looked as if he would run away with the team lead in the goals department.  He hasn’t scored since that game in Buffalo.  Zach Parise, thanks to a hat trick of his own and second of his career, passes Kovalchuk.  Parise now has 27 goals, which is best on the team, while Kovalchuk is still at 25.  David Clarkson also has 25 goals this season, and Patrik Elias, who has goals in back-to-back games, has 21 goals.  Zubrus’ goal, his 16th of the season, was his first goal since the February 5th win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Elias’ goal and assist bring him to 61 points on the season, which is one point fewer than his total from last season.  He also reached 40 assists in a season for the sixth time in his career.  Speaking of last season’s point totals, Ilya Kovalchuk already passed last year’s point total of 60.  His assist tonight gives him 62 points on the season, but he has now gone 8 games without a goal.  He hasn’t scored on his last 32 shots on goal.  David Clarkson also registered two assists in the game, Zubrus added an assist on Elias’ goal and Bryce Salvador picked up his sixth point of the season.

Martin Brodeur will likely be back in net on Sunday on Long Island.  He’ll look to snap a personal four-game losing streak.  Marek Zidlicky is still without a point as a Devil in four games.  The Devils continue to struggle in the face-off circle.  They won just 19 of 48 draws in the 5-0 win over the Capitals.  Still, that is not something that should overshadow the effort the Devils came up with in this game.  They dominated a Washington team that should have been desperate to get into the top-8 in the Eastern Conference.

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Posted on March 2, 2012, in Game Recap, New Jersey Devils and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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