Three Stars of the Game
3rd Star: M. Ribeiro (WAS) (2 assists)
2nd Star: Braden Holtby (WAS) (1 GA, 21 Saves)
1st Star: Alexander Ovechkin (WAS) (3 goals, 1 assist, GWG)
Coming off a hard-fought, come-from-behind win on Thursday night, the Devils were hoping to take both games in D.C. and extend their lead in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference. The Capitals, however, had other plans.
In an odd occurrence, the Devils will be facing the Capitals again in Washington this afternoon. This will be the third and final meeting between these two teams and the Devils have won both games so far. Each game ended 3-2 and Ilya Kovalchuk was the man to finish off each game. On Thursday, the Devils struggled early with penalties and it lead to both Washington goals, but the Capitals struggled late in the 3rd period and had a continuous party in the penalty box which eventually led to the game winning goal by Kovalchuk. Look for both teams to be a little more disciplined in this afternoon’s game.
Game Time: 7:00 PM
Radio: WFAN 660 AM, 101.9 FM
The New Jersey Devils have been in the NHL since 1982, but this week they will do something they’ve never done in team history: travel out of town to play the same opponent twice. In the 2005-06 season, the Devils hosted the Flyers in consecutive games, but they’ve never done it on the road in the regular season. Thursday night the New Jersey Devils (9-3-4) will play the first of two consecutive games in our nation’s capital against the Washington Capitals (5-9-1). The Devils will look to get out of a bit of a funk they’ve found themselves in, going 1-2-1 in their past 4 games, while the Capitals will look to continue their hot streak, winning 3 of their last 4. The Devils escaped with 2 points in the teams’ last meeting, winning 3-2 in OT in New Jersey.
Three Stars of the Game
3rd Star: Jacob Josefson (NJD) (1 assist)
2nd Star: Mike Green (WAS) (1 goal, 1 assist)
1st Star: Ilya Kovalchuk (NJD) (GWG goal)
The Devils seemed to be lacking a certain pep in their step to start the 1st period of Friday night’s game. Their offense seemed uncoordinated, and they were unable to put a lot of pressure on the Capitals to start the game. Washington, however, was dominant through the first half of the period. Brodeur was called upon to weather an early storm by a desperate opponent, and as he did for the first two games, Marty was up to the task. As the period went on, and more fans began to make their way through the snowstorm outside, the momentum began to shift the Devils way. The Devils were given their first power play of the night, as Jay Beagle was called for holding, but with just 7 seconds left on the power play, Kovalchuk was called for hooking. The Devils penalty kill looked strong, as usual, and in the closing seconds, Josefson broke free from the zone with Gionta trailing. As Tomas Kundratek swatted the puck away from Josefson in front of Neuvirth, his clearing attempt landed directly on Gionta’s stick, resulting in the first goal of the game as Gionta hammered home a golden opportunity at 13:55 of the first period.
In the home-opener, the New Jersey Devils (2-0-0) put up a decisive win over their Atlantic Division rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers, in front of an ecstatic, sold-out crowd. They’ll look to repeat that success against the Washington Capitals (0-3-0) Friday night in front of another sold out Prudential Center. During the 2011-12 season, the Devils went 3-1-0 against the Capitals, losing their first outing 3-1, then winning the next two in shootouts before shutting out the Capitals 5-0 on March 2. At the Prudential Center, the Devils were 1-1-0 against the Capitals with Martin Brodeur in net both nights.
(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.
Washington Capitals (32-26-5, 69 points) vs. New Jersey Devils (35-23-5, 75 points)
7:00 PM E.T.
TV: MSG Plus, Radio: WFAN 660 AM
This will be the final meeting of the regular season between the Washington Capitals and New Jersey Devils. The Devils lost the first part of a home-and-home series, 3-1, despite Adam Larsson’s first career NHL goal, then rallied from a two-goal deficit in D.C., winning in a shootout. The Devils blew a 3-0 lead in the most recent meeting, but won 4-3 in a shootout in that game. The Caps are 5-0-4 in their last 9 games against the Devils in Washington D.C.
The Caps are suddenly hot, as they’ve won three straight games, in what has been a disappointing season. On the flip side, the Devils have cooled off dramatically. They’re 0-3-1 since winning 9 of 11 games out of the All-Star break.
Swept in Beantown:
The Devils wanted last night to be a statement win against a team that has had their number all season. The Bruins handled the Devils with ease through the first three meetings of the season, and ten minutes into last night’s game, it looked as if Boston might cruise past the Devils again. Luckily, that didn’t happen. The Devils put together a huge second period, where they out-scored Boston, 3-0, but even that wasn’t enough to knock off the defending champions. The Devils blew another third period lead, and the Bruins won it in overtime on David Krejci’s hat trick goal. It was an up and down night for the Devils in Boston. They got off to a horrendous start against the Bruins, but showed a lot of toughness by coming back and taking a lead in the game. Still, they’re searching to put together 60 minute efforts consistently this season, as it has not happened to this point in the season.
The Devils also felt that the Bruins got away with a hand pass in overtime. Zdeno Chara caught the puck in front of the net, and apparently threw it over to a teammate before Krejci ended up winning it for Boston. The official ruling is that Chara’s stick touched it after the apparent hand-pass. The play was not reviewed, and obviously, the goal counted.
It’s been a frustrating few weeks now for Ilya Kovalchuk. On the one hand, he’s registered 5 assists over his last 7 games. On the other hand, he hasn’t scored a goal since his hat trick in Buffalo, and is now 0-for-his-last-29 shots on goal. He’s also missed the net on countless scoring chances. Even so, his assist on Zach Parise’s goal last night gave him 61 points on the season, which eclipses last season’s total of 60. Adam Henrique continues to struggle in the point-production department, as he has not put up a point since his two assists in Toronto on February 21st. Henrique has only taken 9 shots on goal over his last 9 games. Patrik Elias, meanwhile, also scored last night. It was the first time Elias had a single shot on goal after going four games without a shot. It was Elias’ 20th goal of the season. David Clarkson scored the Devils’ third goal, following a game in which he picked up 19 penalty minutes.
The Devils are also a bit lucky today, as Alexei Ponikarovsky and David Clarkson escaped injuries. Ponikarovsky’s knee was banged up after his big hit on Andrew Ference. Clarkson looked as if his leg was injured after being struck by a teammate’s shot. Both of them returned to the game and are expected to dress tonight in Washington. On the other hand, Petr Sykora didn’t play late in the game last night. There is no word on whether he is injured or not.
Johan Hedberg will get the start in goal for the Devils tonight, as they look to snap a four-game losing streak. Brodeur started three games in four days during last weekend, as well as 9 games in a row overall. Hedberg’s last start came on February 9th, when the Devils fell to the St. Louis Blues, 4-3 in a shootout. His last win was on February 4th, when the Devils barely hang on to win in Philadelphia, despite a 6-0 lead after two periods. Hedberg has 13 wins this season after getting many of the starts early in the season. Overall, his goals against average is 2.53 and a save percentage of .908, which aren’t as good as last season’s numbers, but are actually statistically better than Martin Brodeur’s numbers.
Latest from ‘Capital’ Hill:
It’s been a frustrating season for the Caps. For a team that had won their division four years in a row and had been the top seed in the East in each of the past two seasons, this season has been a huge disappointment so far. The Caps enter tonight’s game as the 9th place team in the Eastern Conference. They’re a very average team in goals for (14th) and goals against (16th), however they have won three straight games and haven’t lost in regulation to the Devils at home since February 25th, 2007 (they’re 5-0-4 since, as previously mentioned). The Caps won their last game in dramatic fashion, though, as they overcame a 2-goal deficit with under four minutes remaining in regulation, before Oveckin’s overtime goal to beat the Islanders.
Here’s the real shocker with the Caps this season: they have one 20-goal scorer and nobody over 50 points. Although they’ve been hit hard with the injury bug, especially stars like Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green’s long-term injuries, they simply aren’t the dynamic and explosive offensive power house that they were last season. Alex Ovechkin has been called out many times this season, and he’s been limited to just 26 goals and 49 points this season, not to mention a suspension as well. Alexander Semin has managed just 17 goals this season and veteran winger Mike Knuble has struggled miserably this season. His minus-16 rating is the worst on the team and he’s even been a healthy scratch recently.
The Caps are 20-17-4 under their new coach, Dale Hunter, and always play the Devils tough. Washington is desperate to get back into the top-8 and a playoff spot, just as the Devils are desperate to avoid a five-game losing streak and jeopardize their playoff spot.
Devils’ projected lineup:
Parise – Henrique – Kovalchuk
Sykora – Elias – Zubrus
Ponikarovsky – Josefson – Clarkson
Boulton – Carter – Bernier
Greene – Fayne
Salvador – Larsson
Volchenkov – Zidlicky
Capitals’ projected lineup:
Ovechkin – Johansson – Aucoin
Chimera – Perreault – Semin
Hendricks – Laich – Brouwer
Beagle – Halpern – Ward
Alzner – Carlson
Schultz – Green
Orlov – Wideman
Washington Capitals (17-14-1, 35 points) vs New Jersey Devils (18-14-1, 37 points)
7:00 PM EST
Radio: WFAN 660 AM
Tonight will be the third of four matchups between the Devils and the Capitals. Most recently, they split a home-and-home on November 11 and 12, which saw the Capitals collect the win in New Jersey, and the Devils return the favor in Washington.
Devils Picking Up Play:
Despite being only four games over .500, the New Jersey Devils’ play recently has been picking up. Before their 4-1 loss Tuesday against division rivals, the New York Rangers, the Devils were on a season-high four game winning streak.
Looking at the standings, the Devils currently sit fourth in the Atlantic Division, but are still within striking distance of the teams above them. Currently the Devils are five points behind the Penguins, seven behind the Rangers, and nine behind the Flyers. Not only are they within striking distance of division teams, but the Devils currently sit eighth in the Eastern Conference standings. A win tonight, could put them up as high as sixth. Also, their opponents tonight , the Washington Capitals, are only two points behind the Devils for eighth. A win tonight is key for both teams.
Tonight’s game at Prudential Center will be an important one for the Devils as they look to get back on the winning side of the standings. Despite having only won half of the games on their home ice, the Devils still have the best penalty kill in the league. And while their powerplay is good enough for 27th out of 30, the Devils might catch a break due to the Capitals having collected the least amount of points, in the East, while on the road.
Last Game Against Washington:
NJD @ WSH
Final Score: 3-2 SO
The Devils found themselves down 2-0 to end the first period, but goals from Petr Sykora and Ryan Carter tied the game up shortly before the end of the second period.
After a scoreless third period and overtime, the game went into a shootout. Zach Parise scored in the first round for the Devils, but the next skater for the Capitals was Alexander Ovechkin who got one past Johan Hedberg. The shootout remained tied until the fourth round when David Clarkson, of all people, scored the game winner.
Projected Devils Lineup:
Parise (C) – Henrique – Kovalchuk (A)
Sykora – Elias (A) – Zubrus
Tedenby - Zajac – Clarkson
Sestito – Carter – Janssen
Salvador – Foster
Volchenkov – Urbom
Taormina – Fayne
*Note: Adam Larsson has been granted permission to return to Sweden to attend his grandmother’s funeral. He is expected to miss tonight’s game as well as Monday’s game against Carolina.*
The Latest on the Washington Capitals:
It’s hard to imagine that the Capitals have gone 10-14-1 since they started the season at 7-0-0. A lot has changed since than including a coaching change. After firing Bruce Boudreau, the Capitals now have Dale Hunter behind the bench calling the shots.
In their last game, on Tuesday, the Capitals defeated the Nashville Predators by a score of 4-1. After this win, the Capitals have won four out of their last six proving that the Capitals team looks to have their feet back under them. The bright side of this victory was that the Capitals big-three, Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Semin all had a goal in the game. Surprisingly, this was the first time this had happened since October 2010.
Injury wise, the Capitals are still missing Mike Green, who is still recovering from a groin injury suffered six weeks ago. Besides him, no impact players are missing from their lineup.
Also, it is being reported that the Capitals will be wearing their third jersey tonight at Prudential Center. These are the jerseys that the Capitals wore during the Winter Classic last season.
Projected Capitals Lineup:
Ovechkin (C) – Laich – Brouwer
Johansson – Backstrom (A) – Semin
Chimera – Halpern – Ward
Hendricks – Perrault – Knuble (A)
Alzner – Carlson
Schultz – Wideman
Hamrlik – Orlov