Game 69 Recap: 39-year old phenom wins game #650

New Jersey Devils vs Philadelphia Flyers

(headline by @buckfrenz)

Three stars of the game:

3rd star – Patrik Elias (1 goal, 1 assist)

2nd star – Marek Zidlicky (2 assists)

1st star – Ilya Kovalchuk (1 goal, 2 assists)

There seems to be a theme with these recent Devils’ victories: overcome somewhat slow starts and play a strong third period.  That, plus strong play by Martin Brodeur and Ilya Kovalchuk’s dominance.  The Devils’ balanced offense right now has them streaking in the right direction.  Their latest victory, Sunday night’s 4-1 win over the Flyers, followed that “formula.”  The win ties the Devils with Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference standings.  Here’s how they got the win.

The Devils got off to a bit of a slow start in this game, but both teams took a while to feel each other out, as both teams played hard-fought games on Saturday night.  Midway through the first period, shots were tied at five apiece, but it was at that point when the Devils started to get going.  They had the final five shots of the first period, including the game’s opening goal.  After some questionable non-calls by the referees, Flyers’ defenseman Braydon Coburn went off for slashing in the final minute of the first period.  As they did late in Saturday’s win on Long Island, the Devils wasted little time on the power play.  Patrik Elias led the rush straight through the middle.  After he entered the zone cleanly, he dropped the puck to David Clarkson, who backhanded the puck off Elias’ stick and past Flyers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.

Following the first period, you had your say via Twitter:

@golfertscarty: Hopefully we can start the second the same way we ended the first.

@Parisalchuk: They are looking pretty good tonight. They are forcing things a little sometimes, but some real great chances.

@Mike_D85: Both teams look a little sluggish,a bit tired,but to be expected.nice use of the powerplay,hopefully the first of several.

@jseltmann: Solid effort. Good puck movement and chances. Hard to believe no gloves were dropped and Marty standing strong again!

@jorlando_26: Great forechecking. Love seeing the d-men step up and join the rush. We need to continue peppering Bob with shots all game.

Carrying a 1-0 lead into the second period, the Devils played a more conservative middle period.  After David Clarkson took a penalty, Ilya Kovalchuk had a strong chance shorthanded down the right wing, but he was stopped by Bobrovsky.  Following Clarkson’s penalty, Jody Shelley received an unsportsmanlike penalty and misconduct, as tempers flared between fourth lines.  Brodeur made a few big saves during the second period, including one glove save on Zac Rinaldo, and Bobrovsky made a glove save on Zach Parise.  The Devils maintained their 1-0 on the first period power play goal by Elias through two periods.

Let’s check out some tweets during the second intermission:

@radametz:  It’s good that we’re still leading but I’d like to get a few more behind Bobrovsky quickly to put this one away.

@tehdiplomat: [Officiating] is atrocious. I doubt they are watching the same game I am.

@jseltmann: NO letdown! 60 mins of strong hockey. Keep working hard and generate more chances.

@kastrol: Devils need to put another strong 3rd period together and ice the game.

The third period couldn’t have started much worse for the Devils.  After it seemed as if the Devils had cured their early season third period woes, they missed Claude Giroux in coverage, which isn’t a good idea.  Giroux scored from the left side of the crease and tied the game just 16 seconds into the third period.  But unlike some of their early season blown leads, the Devils didn’t let this game slip away.  About a minute and a half later, the Flyers broke down defensively, and Ilya Kovalchuk led a rush into the Flyers’ zone.  Defenseman Anton Volchenkov jumped into the rush to make it a 2-on-1.  Kovalchuk threw a pass across to Volchenkov, who scored his second of the season.

Volchenkov and the Devils caught a break later in the period, as Anton interfered with Philadelphia’s Max Talbot.  Talbot retaliated by slashing Volchenkov, who appeared to have injured his knee (he was fine).  On the following 4-on-4 session, Adam Henrique raced down on a partial breakaway, and Bobrovsky stopped his backhander, but he sent the puck back to Marek Zidlicky, who threw the puck to the slot, where Ilya Kovalchuk picked it up and snapped one over Bobrovsky and double the Devils’ lead.  Not too long after that, Zac Rinaldo high-sticked Ryan Carter, and got a double-minor for it.  Rinaldo appeared to have slewfooted Carter as well.  The Devils scored on the first minor penalty, as Patrik Elias threw the puck towards the net, and Parise re-directed off Bobrovsky’s pads, but backhanded his own rebound home to make it 4-1 Devils.  They threatened for a fifth goal, and had another power play following the double-minor, but won it, 4-1.

Game notes: The Devils went 2-for-5 on the power play.  It was their third straight game with a power play goal.  Marek Zidlicky now has a three-game point streak.  He had two assists against the Islanders Thursday, a goal on Long Island Saturday and two more assists Sunday night.  Ilya Kovalchuk’s goal was his 30th goal of the season, which gives him nine straight 30-goal seasons.  To put that in perspective, Wayne Gretzky’s longest such streak was 13 seasons, despite many of those seasons in the 70+ goal range.  Kovalchuk’s 71 points ties him with Phil Kessel of Toronto for fifth in the NHL in scoring.  Patrik Elias’ 67 points rank ninth in the league and Zach Parise, with 62 points, isn’t too far behind, in 16th place.  Officially, the Devils led Sunday’s game in takeaways, 10-1.

Martin Brodeur, who continues his second-half resurgence, picked up his 650th career regular season victory.  He’d need an incredible season next year to reach 700 wins unless he played for two more seasons.  Again, to put Brodeur’s win total in perspective, his next win will give him 100 more regular season wins than Patrick Roy, who is second overall with 551 regular season wins.

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Posted on March 11, 2012, in Game Recap, New Jersey Devils and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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