Game 71 Recap: Devils top Avs in shootout on Return of Crosby, Pt. 2 Night

New Jersey Devils vs Colorado Avalanche

(headline by @SkooterMcGaven)

If you were a casual hockey fan, you probably had no idea that there were games other than Penguins-Rangers, “Crosby’s second return,” because of all the media hype, but there were other games.  If you want a recap of Crosby’s return, well, I can’t help you there, as I’ll be recapping the Avalanche-Devils game.  The Avs were coming off a dramatic comeback win against Buffalo in a shootout on Wednesday night, and the Devils were shutout in Philadelphia in a lackluster effort on Tuesday night, so the Devils were expected to come out to a strong start.  In reality, they didn’t get off to such a strong start.  Both teams played a very tight-checking, defensive period, which may have fallen right into what Colorado wanted to do after playing the night before.  Both teams came up empty on their lone power play of the night.  The Devils in particular allowed nothing to Colorado on their power play.

So after a scoreless first period, where the Avs outshot the Devils, 8-5, but neither team controlled play, let’s take a look at some reaction via Twitter:

@HeavyMetalTeddy: Like the early rounds of a boxing match, both teams feelin each other out early.  Play picked up near end of period.

@radametz: The Devils look okay so far, but need to pick up their pace a little bit and get some better scoring chances.

Well, the Devils did just that in the second period.  Alexei Ponikarovsky and Jacob Josefson both had several chances to score in front of the net and around the net, but they either failed to get the puck to the net or J.S. Giguere came up with the saves.  Josefson had several chances that looked as if they were sure goals, but when you’re in a goal drought, as Josefson is currently in, you tend to miss those chances.  Then, after an icing and a timeout by Pete DeBoer, the Devils defense broke down and allowed the Avalanche a 3-on-1 rush.  Adam Larsson ended up blocking the Avs’ shot attempt by David Jones.  The Devils and Avs finished the second period scoreless, despite the Devils’ 12 shots on Giguere and the Avs’ 11 shots on Martin Brodeur.

After two periods, here are some thoughts on the scoreless tie:

@radametz: Marty being Marty and putting on a clinic in the first 40 minutes.  Another stellar effort by him to keep the Devils in it.

@HeavyMetalTeddy: Play picked up in the 2nd & both teams had missed opportunities.  Got a feeling 1 lucky bounce may decide this game.

As the third period progressed, fatigue started to show from Colorado’s side.  The Devils started playing like the more dominant team.  Still, Giguere and Brodeur allowed nothing on the score sheet.  The Devils outshot Colorado, 15-7 in the third period, including great chances from Ilya Kovalchuk, Adam Henrique as well as the Devils’ third line of Ponikarovsky-Josefson-Clarkson.  That line came up with 11 of the Devils’ 33 total shots on goal.  Kovalchuk had six shots on goal and Zach Parise had five shots on Giguere.  But it didn’t matter, as none of them found the back of the net.  Kovalchuk’s sixth shot was the only Devils shot in overtime.  Both rookie scoring leaders, Adam Henrique of the Devils and Gabriel Landeskog of the Avalanche, had scoring chances in the game, but neither were prominent in the outcome of the game.

So, after 65 minutes of scoreless hockey, the game headed to a shootout, which gave Giguere and Brodeur duel-shutouts.  For Brodeur, it was his 118th career shutout (he’s won 115 of them, with two ending in scoreless ties and another was a 1-0 shootout loss).

In the shootout, the Devils were perfect.  Ilya Kovalchuk patiently got his shot past Giguere, glove-side to open the scoring.  Milan Hejduk’s shot appeared to deflect off Brodeur’s glove and then the right post.  Following Hejduk, Zach Parise went to his patented “move:” forehand, backhand deke and a forehand goal.  Martin Brodeur stopped Peter Mueller to clinch the win for the Devils, who move up to 87 points.  They’re still two behind the Flyers, who won on Long Island, for fifth in the Eastern Conference.

Although the Devils didn’t play a bad game, they haven’t scored a goal since the third period of Sunday’s 4-1 win over the Flyers.  They were shut out in Philly on Tuesday and failed to score in 65 minutes of play on Thursday.  They’ll likely need a lot more than zero goals to beat the red-hot Penguins on Saturday afternoon.  Pittsburgh won its tenth straight game against the Rangers Thursday night, and oh yeah, they have Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang healthy.  For what it’s worth, last time the Penguins had a full, “healthy” lineup, the Devils swept the season series, 6-0-0, including a 5-2 win on “Retro Night” during the 2009-10 season.

Ilya Kovalchuk is still sitting on 399 career goals.  Kovalchuk also improved to 10-for-12 in the shootout, and seven of the 10 shootout goals were game-deciding shootout goals.  Martin Brodeur extended his own records with his 118th career regular season shutout and 651st regular season victory.  Patrick Roy retired with exactly 100 fewer regular season wins than Brodeur currently owns.  Saturday, “Retro Day 2012″ (also known to some as St. Patrik, err, St. Patrick’s Day), will mark the three-year anniversary of Brodeur’s 552nd win, which passed Roy, as well as Patrik Elias’ 702nd regular season point, which eclipsed John MacLean for the all-time points record in Devils’ history.

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Posted on March 15, 2012, in Game Recap, New Jersey Devils, NHL and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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