Devils Even Series With 5-3 Win Over Flyers

Here is my recap of the Devils 5-3 Game 2 win against Philadelphia on Friday night:

Devils Even Series With 5-3 Win Over Flyers

Devils 5 Philadelphia 3

If a team expects to make a long postseason run with dreams of winning a Stanley Cup, they need to get goals from their stars — and the unexpected hero needs to score every now and then. Sure it was huge for New Jersey that Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk scored their first goals of the series against the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday night at Prudential Center, but the first question Devils coach Jacques Lemaire was asked after his squad’s 5-3 Game 2 win wasn’t about either one of them.

Q: You got your big goal-scorer going tonight, Colin White. “It’s funny that you talk about this,” said Lemaire with a grin, “but in the playoffs you need that type of goals from different people, different players that you don’t expect. He’s one of them.”

New Jersey had five different goal-scorers in the win as they evened the series at one game apiece and now they head to Philadelphia for the next two games. “We have to go in there and just play; focus on the job,” said Patrik Elias, who had a great game with three assists. “They’ll be feeding off of their crowd, it will be loud — we just have to stay in control and play our game.”

Parise started the scoring 2:45 into the game when he converted a perfect pass from Elias on a shorthanded breakaway, beating Flyers goalie Brian Boucher with a rising backhand shot. “It was a great pass,” said Parise. “He saw me with a step on (Chris) Pronger and he was able to get it through (Matt) Carle; great play. He sent me in alone on a breakaway.” The 1-0 Devils lead lasted until 9:33 when ex-Devil Arron Asham beat Martin Brodeur after a cross-ice pass from Claude Giroux.

It was Giroux almost six minutes later that gave Philly its first lead of the night when he deflected Carle’s shot from the circle through Brodeur’s legs on the power play. The Flyers carried the 2-1 lead into the second period despite being out-shot (11-7) for the third time in four periods of the series. White evened the game again 3:44 into the middle period when his long shot found its way through a maze of players and past Boucher for his first goal in 101 playoff games.

Another defenseman, this time Andy Greene, scored at 13:25 to restore the one-goal lead for the Devils, when he redirected Elias’ centering pass into the net on a power play. “Patrik is playing really well, especially tonight there — moves the puck, controls the puck,” said Lemaire. “When you’re looking at the players he’s playing against, he did a tremendous job.” Philadelphia battled back and tied it at 3-3 with a power play goal when Pronger deflected Kimmo Timonen’s past Brodeur with 1:12 left in the period.

The Flyers controlled the play for most of the third period and could’ve taken a lead if not for Brodeur’s save on Ian Laperierre’s one-timer from the slot with 8:40 remaining. “He gave us a chance to win by making that huge save in the slot,” said Lemaire. “Otherwise they would’ve taken the lead.”

The game seemed destined for overtime until Dainius Zubrus used his big body (6’5”, 225 lbs.) to force his way to the front of the net with the puck. “Zubie made a really good power move to the net and that’s what he brings to our line, what he brings to this team,” said Parise. “He was able to chip it over the goalie’s shoulder there.” The replays show Parise and Zubrus simultaneously hitting the puck with their sticks, but both players admitted afterwards they didn’t care who scored the goal — just that the goal was scored.

Kovalchuk finished off a three-point performance (and a night that saw him take three minor penalties) when he deposited a shot from center-ice into the empty Flyers net with 32.9 seconds left, sealing the Game 2 win for his team; his first playoff win in six career games. “I’m sure he’s really excited to get it out of the way and he showed what type of player he is — he was all over the ice, he was aggressive, such a big guy,” said Brodeur.

Lemaire shared the same sentiments about Kovalchuk, saying, “I like Kovy, he might do some weird things according you guys; to me, he just lacks some experience in the playoffs, that’s all that he’s missing.” But coach Lemaire didn’t like the fact that one of his stars was getting tangled with a part-time player (Darroll Powe) on the opposition. “There’s certain things he needs to watch — you can’t get tangled with a guy that plays ten minutes and have to sit out for two. Not when you’re one of the top players, so you have to stay away from that.”

Game Notes: Rookie defenseman Matthew Corrente made his postseason debut for New Jersey and played forward on the fourth line; he had one shot on goal in 5:14. Pronger led all skaters in ice-time with 27:26 and Travis Zajac led the Devils with 22:41. Parise led all players with six shots on goal and Jeff Carter led the Flyers with five, but was a -3; Only six skaters in the game did not record a shot on goal (Blair Betts and Oskars Bartulis for Philly/ Pierre-Luc Leblond, Bryce Salvador, Mike Mottau and Martin Skoula for New Jersey). Boucher finished with 28 saves and Brodeur made 26 saves in his 99th career playoff win. Game 3 is Sunday night at 6pm in Philadelphia at the Wachovia Center.

Game 2 Hero: Patrik Elias

Game 2 Goat: Jeff Carter

Dan’s Three Stars of the Game:

#1 – Patrik Elias (NJ) – 3 assists (3)

#2 – Dainius Zubrus (NJ) – gw goal (1)

#3 – Zach Parise (NJ) – sh goal (1), assist (2)

Dan Rice covers the New Jersey Devils & NHL for NYCSportsnetwork.com, & contributes to IslesNation.com. He can be reached at drdiablo321@yahoo.com.

Devils-Flyers Preview

The New Jersey Devils will square off against their division-rivals the Philadelphia Flyers in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs beginning on Wednesday night at Prudential Center. The two teams have met three prior times in the postseason: New Jersey beat Philadelphia in the 1995 (six games) and 2000 Eastern Conference Finals (seven games) and the Flyers bested the Devils in five games in 2004’s opening round.

This past season, Philly dominated the Devils during the six-game season series with a 5-1 edge (outscoring them 20-13), but struggled to make the postseason — qualifying on the season’s final day. “For us it means nothing, for them it means everything; that’s the way you look at those things,” said New Jersey captain Jamie Langenbrunner of the one-sided season series. “They obviously had our number during the regular season, they did things that took us off our game — we’re going to have to address that, we’re going to have to understand the way they play and play accordingly.

Offense: Both teams are filled with goal-scorers who can get hot and carry their teams to a series win. New Jersey’s top two lines will contain any combination of Zach Parise, Travis Zajac, Langenbrunner, Patrik Elias, Ilya Kovalchuk and Dainius Zubrus, while Philadelphia will roll out the likes of Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Danny Briere, Scott Hartnell, Simon Gagne and Claude Giroux. Both teams also have valuable grinders who could turn out to be the unsung heroes in this series – look for David Clarkson (Devils) and Ian Laperierre (Flyers) to both have an impact at some point during the series.

Edge: Even. As I stated, both teams have some serious firepower when clicking on all cylinders so it will be interesting to see which team (if any) struggles to find their goal scoring touch.

Defense: The Devils have played with a so-called ‘no-name’ defense corps since Brian Rafalski departed for Detroit, but this season they allowed the fewest goals in the entire NHL (191) and they did while their best defenseman (Paul Martin) missed 59 games. The Flyers have a collection of nasty blueliners (Chris Pronger, Braydon Coburn) and talented (Kimmo Timonen, Matt Carle) that are all tough to play against. “It’s going to be tough, it doesn’t matter who you play; it’s going to be a tough series,” said Clarkson after learning his Devils would tangle with the Flyers. “A team like that, you know you’re going into war and that’s what we’re going to do in here. We’re going to play team hockey, play great defensively and give everything we have every night.”

The biggest questions facing each squad will be what kind of impact will Andy Greene and Martin Skoula have for New Jersey and will Pronger be able to stay out of the penalty box for the Flyers.

Edge: Philly. Even if the Devils survive this round, chances are that Parise, Kovalchuk and Elias may be worn down from having to deal with Pronger for possibly seven games.

Goaltending: Martin Brodeur and Brian Boucher last met in the playoffs in 2000 when the Devils rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to beat Boucher and the Flyers at Philadelphia in Game 7. Since then Brodeur has appeared in 92 playoff contests and Boucher has only been in four. Brodeur comes into the series maybe as hot as he’s ever been to close a regular season — surrendering only seven goals over seven games, including back-to-back shutouts. Boucher (4-6-1 in last eleven starts) is basically the only goalie left standing in Philly’s crease after injuries to Ray Emery and Michael Leighton, so if he goes down the Flyers will be in deep trouble.

Edge: New Jersey. Brodeur is hot and Boucher, despite winning two of the final three games, is not.

Intangibles: The Flyers come into the series with the NHL’s third best power play (21.5%) and their penalty killers ranked 11th (83.0%). The Devils finished 11th on the PP (18.7%) and the least-penalized team in the league finished 13th on the PK (82.8%). Both coaches — Jacques Lemaire (1995 with NJ) and Peter Laviolette (2006 with Carolina) — have won a Stanley Cup, so they both know what it is going to take to guide their teams to the where they want to be. New Jersey has more experience as far as rings go, but Philadelphia has had more recent success during the postseason.

Edge: Even. The specialty teams will be a wash, but if the Flyers take reckless penalties (as they are known to do) the Devils will have to capitalize to take control of the series.

Prediction: New Jersey in 6. This will be a hard-hitting, nasty series that will leave many players on both sides battered and bruised. “It’s going to be very intense games. I know it’s a big rivalry and the rivalry is going to continue,” said Kovalchuk. I believe Brodeur will steal a game (for the first time since ‘03) in Philly and avoid sending the series back to the Rock for a Game 7.

Dan Rice covers the New Jersey Devils & NHL for NYCSportsnetwork.com. He can be reached at drdiablo321@yahoo.com.

Devils-Rangers Postgame Quotes [03.25.10]

Here are some of the postgame quotes after the Devils 4-3 shootout loss to the Rangers Thursday night:

Jamie Langenbrunner:

Talking about the game…

“We caught up to Pittsburgh a little bit; would we have played a better game had we won the shootout? I don’t know, we played a good hockey game and they won the game at the end.”

Are there positives to take out of this game?

“Absolutely, we played pretty well. They scored a lucky power play goal — that bounced off a couple of things and went in the net, and they did a good job of scoring one late. I think we played a good game; we battled hard, we missed some opportunities. It was a must-win for them and they delivered; we had opportunities to bury them and we didn’t deliver.”

Talking about his goal…

“It was a good play by (Andy) Greene hitting Patty and Patty saw me and obviously deflected it over there (to me). We connected with each other a few times for semi-breakaways, breakaways, and finally one went in. I thought we did a lot of good things tonight and if you do that and get those chances, we’re going to score goals.”

Martin Brodeur:
Talking about the tying goal…

“I think they sent the puck behind the net and we went chasing after it. The guy made a pretty nice pass — he faked on his forehand and went to his backhand — and (Chris) Drury was all by himself there. He was so close, it’s kind of hard (to stop it), if he hits a hole, it’s going to go in.”

Could you tell on the shootout goal by Erik Christensen that it was a goal?

“I didn’t see it. I heard it hit the post, then the other post and I felt it go on my back; I just tried to make sure I wasn’t going to knock it in. The linesman knew right away it went in.”

Does it sting a little more because it was the Rangers?

“No; it was an emotional game. I thought we played real hard, real well. We did a lot of good things out there, we just didn’t get the job done at the end of the game and that’s the bottom line.”

It seems like when you play these guys; it’s hard to get more than a one-goal lead…

“When there’s a rivalry, emotional-wise, it’s always a roller coaster when you play them. They’re competing to save their lives these guys, so we knew they weren’t going to roll over.”


Zach Parise:

Talking about missing out on jumping ahead of Pittsburgh in points…

“We still have a game in hand, but it would’ve been nice to get that extra point. We played pretty well; I thought we just have to be a little bit better.”

You out-chanced them tonight; does that make it more frustrating?

“I thought Lundqvist made a big difference (for them); we outplayed them, out-chanced them, like you said, a lot of good things came out of it. It was just unfortunate we didn’t win.”

Did you get the shot that you wanted during the shootout?

“Yeah, I got my shot off, he made a nice save. I got the shot I wanted, that’s where I wanted to go.”

Patrik Elias:

What went wrong on that last play where they scored?

“You can analyze it as much as you want; maybe you have to win the face-off right from the get-go. They put it behind the net. Either be aggressive or maybe be a little more patient, because we left a guy right there on the goal line. It just happened; it’s too bad because we had control of that game.”

Talking about his goal early in the third…

“Those guys, Clarkie and Zubie, did a good job getting the puck deep and holding onto it there. We had good changes going on today, Nieds came off and I jumped on as the fresh guy and just went into the slot; it was a nice pass by Clarkie.”

You had a SH breakaway early in the game, were you unable to settle the puck down there?

“Is that what you saw? Well you saw more than me then. No, I just made the right play, the right move that I wanted; he stayed deep and didn’t give me much room there. He played well tonight.”

Henrik Lundqvist:

Talking about his team’s record in overtime/shootout…

“We haven’t had a good record at all in overtime; it’s funny how sometimes we give up a lot of scoring chances in overtime, but we managed to take it to a shootout and it was great to see us score right away. That gives me confidence to be more patient against my shooters.”

What’s going through your mind when Drury scores that goal?

“I didn’t even look; I was talking to Alex (Auld) on the bench (laughs), complaining about not winning and then from nowhere we tied the game — it was a great feeling. To stay alive, we needed this.”

Did you know anything about the shooters in the shootout?

“No, not at all; I just try to approach it the same way no matter who I’m facing. They’re good shooters; I’ve faced them a lot over the years and you have to respect them a lot, but today was my day.”

Devils-Penguins Postgame Quotes [03.12.10]

Here are some of the postgame quotes after the Devils 3-1 win over the Penguins on Friday night:

Patrik Elias:

Talking about the first goal of the game…

“We had a good forecheck going and Kovy got the puck, he tried to feed me in the slot and it went all the way to our D. We talked about before the game if there’s no shot straight on net, try to bang it off the boards and it just worked out there. We had a little bit of luck on our side.”

Any explanation why you guys are 5-0 against Pittsburgh this season?

“Just that we are ready to play (them); they’re a good hockey club. They get chances, I thought Marty played great tonight, it’s just the way we play against them — you cant just sit back otherwise they’re going to burn you because they have so much talent over there.”

So they bring out the best in you guys?

“Yeah and we don’t just hesitate or wait for what they’re going to do, if we do that there’s not too many nights we’re going to beat them. We have to be ready to go (when we play them); we have to bring the game to them.”

How do you continue this good play tomorrow night against the Islanders?

“We had two good games in a row, we know what it took and we just have to play the same way.”


Martin Brodeur:

Was it hard to stay focused after so many missed opportunities in the second period (5-minute PP, penalty shot)?

“It is hard and you have to respect the guys, what they did, they stayed with it. A lot of things happen in a hockey game, sometimes you react emotionally and differently; today even though it didn’t go well for us on the power play and the penalty shot, we had a lot of chances to take over the game and we just let it hang. Usually when you do that against good teams – you pay the price. But our guys were confident and we knew they played last night, and we needed to play a solid third period; and we got two goals.”

You only gave up one goal tonight; did Sidney Crosby trick you on that shot?

“He wasn’t really looking at me, I know he likes that quick shot — it’s hard to kind of read him when he’s not looking at you at all. He hit it perfectly, I wanted to stand my ground there and he put it right over my stick; it doesn’t look that good, but it’s a pretty good shot.”

Your team has played well against Pittsburgh in all five games this year, why is that?

“I think we have a lot of respect for them, we know if we don’t play well we’re going to have a big problem. I think they bring the best out of us and you’re playing scared a bit with that respect that you have for them. We really took it to them, we had a great second period where we gained a lot of momentum — I think we tired them pretty good in the second even though we didn’t do anything great with some of the stuff we missed.”

Evgeni Malkin had a breakaway early in the third period; did he hit the outside of the net there?

“Yeah, he fanned on it. He got me going further and I think the puck just rolled off his stick and hit the side of the net.”

Ilya Kovalchuk:

What has stood out to you about Jamie Langenbrunner as a leader after 11 games here?

“That’s the reason why he’s captain, he’s a very experienced guy, and he’s won two Cups and knows what it takes to win. Not just him, he’s a great leader, but the leadership group here is unbelievable — Marty, Jamie, Zach (Parise), (Rob) Niedermayer, you can go on and on with names; the most important thing is those guys know how to win and it’s very exciting to play with them.”

What did you see on the penalty shot? Obviously you didn’t get the result you wanted, but did you get the shot you wanted?

“Yeah I got a penalty shot before, a couple of years ago when I was a young pup. So I scored on that move and I tried to go low glove, but he outplayed me. It’s still frustrating but the good thing is that we found a way to win.”

Did you feel better after you scored in the third period?

“You know you just try to work hard, don’t stop, don’t give up; you’re going to finally get some breaks, so this one felt good.”

Andy Greene:

On the first goal your shot went wide, was that planned?

“Yeah, they were blocking the lane pretty well and obviously being the home team we know how the boards are; I actually got a better hop off the boards then I expected, it came straight out and Patty did the rest there.”

You also scored the game-winner, talk me through that one…

“It was almost the exact same opportunity I had in the first period where I hit the crossbar, the elbow basically; I was just trying to put it in the same spot — I knew I had a good lane there. I just put everything I could into the shot and luckily it went in.”

Pittsburgh only had one goal tonight and you’re 5-0 against them this year, what has been the secret to success?

“I think we match-up well against them and we obviously know they’re a great team and we always come ready to play against them. I think we really try to focus on our defensive play because we know how good they are offensively, so that’s one of the things we really did well tonight.”

Jacques Lemaire:

There are big games and bigger games, how big was this to you?

“Well, especially in the standings and the team we played; it’s good, it’s a confidence builder. We have been working on having a little more intensity and the last two games it showed that our intensity level is higher than it has been the last few weeks.”

How about Andy Greene’s game?

“Very good, he played a lot…again. Well, we had guys that were in the penalty box so we had to maybe overplay him a little bit. His game is as it’s been all year — very solid and moves the puck well in the D-zone; and he scored a goal (smiles).”

Devils Win, Now 5-0 against Defending Champs

Here is the link to my recap of the Devils 3-1 win over Pittsburgh on Friday night:

Devils Win, Now 5-0 against Defending Champs

Dan’s Three Stars of the Game:

#1 – Andy Greene (NJ) – gw goal (5), assist (24)

#2 – Ilya Kovalchuk (NJ) – goal (35), 2 assists (34)

#3 – Martin Brodeur (NJ) – 34 saves, win (37-22-3)

line-combos/d-pairings
New Jersey:
Parise-Zajac-Zubrus
Kovalchuk-Elias-Langenbrunner
Rolston-Niedermayer-Clarkson
Pandolfo-McAmmond-Pelley

Greene-Salvador
Mottau-White
Salmela-Skoula

Pittsburgh:
Fedotenko-Malkin-Ponikarovsky
Kunitz-Crosby-Dupuis
Cooke-J.Staal-Guerin
Rupp-Talbot-C.Adams

Leopold-Goligoski
Gonchar-Eaton
Letang-Orpik

Devils-Predators Postgame Quotes [02.12.10]

Here are some of the postgame quotes after the Devils 5-2 win over the Predators on Friday night:

Travis Zajac:

Talking about his goal…

“It was all Jamie (Langenbrunner), I just put it into an open net. A good play by him coming across the middle and taking everyone with him. He threw it in front and I had an open net; not too tough of a goal to score.”

Did you find yourself open by staying back a bit on that play?

“Yeah I just went towards the net and the puck just came out to me; he made a good play and knew someone was coming in.”

Your thoughts on the win…

“It was a good win for us; we did a lot of good things and we scored one on the power play, which was a big goal for us. We got scoring from different lines and different players which we haven’t had in a while.”

Are there any adjustments you have to make when the lines change as much as they do?

“You just have to be aware of who you’re playing with and make sure that you’re talking a lot. That’s the only thing that could get us in trouble, when you have new guys on a line and you aren’t talking. As long as we are sharp, talking and making plays we should be all right.”

Ilya gets his first goal as a Devil finally…

“Yeah a huge goal, it’s nice to see him get one finally because he’s hit some posts and had some great opportunities. To come away with a big goal when we needed it was huge.”

Martin Brodeur:

After a game like this, what do you make of your team’s offense?

“Well we had a lot of chances, it could have been a greater score — I think their goalie played well and made some good saves. I think it’s the reason why we went after Ilya Kovalchuk, to get our offense to a different level; we just have to combine our overall game with having a big weapon like him and he’s definitely going to get other players dangerous out there because of him.”

The second goal did that go off of Andy Greene at all?

“You know what, I don’t know. He (Jordin Tootoo) made a pretty good shot from where he was; it was about 14 inches off the ice and just inside the post. I doubt it touched him because he had a big gap and he walked right into Greenie, a little bit like the goal James van Riemsdyk scored (Monday in Philly); it was similar to that. It kind of becomes a screen if the guy hits their shot; the guy made a pretty good shot, even though it was far out it was a pretty good shot.”

You took a pretty good shot in the throat in the third period, you were okay?

“Yeah a stick, it’s okay, I was coughing a bit. I was surprised because I was looking one way and the stick just came and jabbed me right in the throat.”

A much needed win after three straight L’s?

“Yeah, it’s always nice to win; I think it’s nice for Kovy to get the first one under his belt and get that monkey off his back a little bit. As a team, it’s been a struggle for us to win games, so definitely any win we’ll take it.”

Ilya Kovalchuk:

Talking about his goal…

“It’s very easy to play with good players; it just takes a little while to know them. I’ve gotten a lot of chances every game, a lot of shots, but they didn’t go in so finally today I got that one and hopefully a lot more.”

Were you worried (that you hadn’t gotten a goal yet)?

“No, I was worried because we’re not winning, but the most important thing for us is to win. It really doesn’t matter in this locker room who’s scoring, we just want to get two points every night; and stay on top of our division.”

Isn’t scoring goals why they brought you here though?

“It’s nice to get a goal, especially at home and I’m sure the fans they all expect the goals from me; finally I did it. Like I said we played a solid defensive game and we got the two points.”

Did moving Patrik to center have anything to do with why you scored your goal?

“I don’t know; it was just a great play by everybody putting pressure on their D and Patty made an unbelievable pass, so.”

How’d that feel when it went in and you heard the crowd roar?

“It was nice. It always fun to score, but it’s more fun to win; that was a big win for us.”

When you saw the hats go on the ice what did you think?

“I don’t know; I don’t know what to think. It was kind of a welcome goal and I appreciate that they did it.”

You’ve been here for a week now and in a few days Marty will be your enemy again at the Olympics, what’s that going to be like?

“Unbelievable, I know the guy more now and it’s always good to play against you’re teammates; it’s fun. You play for your country and it’s important, a big honor and I think it will be a great challenge for both of us.”

Have you learned any secrets that you may share with your Russian teammates?

“No, he’s so good you don’t know where to shoot on him. But every goalie hates traffic so you have to make it tough on him.”


Patrik Elias:

Talking about Kovalchuk’s goal…

“Sometimes it goes in and sometimes it doesn’t. Obviously the way he plays, sometimes you look at three goals and you don’t see him on the score sheet you think that he doesn’t do his job, but he always does. He’s getting a lot of opportunities, a lot of shots — and hopefully this will keep him going.”

Were you looking for him there or just anyone?

“Often plays like that we’re just trying to cycle it and you always look for the high man. He was smart enough to find the open spot.”


Jacques Lemaire:

In all your years did you ever see hats thrown on the ice for a non-hat trick?

“We had three goals (smiles).”

No, one goal that Kovalchuk scored…

“Yeah, but it made it three for our team (smiling). It’s been a long time since we scored three goals.”

What did you like best about the team tonight?

“Well our top guys, I think our top guys were better than their top players. They pretty much all scored, they played good. I think we moved the puck better — we even scored a goal on the power play.”

Devils-Canadiens Postgame Quotes [12.16.09]

Here are some of the postgame quotes after Wednesday’s 2-1  win by the Devils over the Canadiens:

Patrik Elias:

Why is it that you and Brian (Rolston) are really clicking right now?

“It’s not just me and Brian; I think that Zharkov is doing a lot to make it fun, to make it successful as a line. We’re playing as a unit, all three guys; you saw that he (Zharkov) made another good play on that goal. He’s working hard and makes smart decisions, and with Brian, we’re just having fun, a lot of communication and just playing.”

Was this a patient game (tonight)?

“I don’t know, I don’t think that’s the way we want to play. Like I said, the power plays, we did a lot of good things in the first period because we drew four power plays in a row, and it didn’t work for us tonight. Not every night is going to be perfect, or its going to work; it kind of affected us, maybe a little bit, for the second period. I think both teams didn’t play as good as we can, but we’ll take the win.”

Vladimir Zharkov:

Can you talk about the play on the game-winning goal?

“I see one guy came to me and the second guy went to Rollie, then it was a 2-on-2. It was a beautiful, very nice; Rollie stopped, wait, wait, wait, he gave the puck to Elias; Elias finished nice goal.”

Are you having fun playing with those two guys, it seems like you have good chemistry?

“Maybe, because I love playing with those two guys; very good passers, you know, Rollie and Elias, but I am young. I played just nine games, you know — these guys help me all the time. We skate very hard every game, but I’ve only played nine games, I’m just a young boy.”

Jamie Langenbrunner:

Talking about the play where he lost the puck and gave up shorthanded breakaway…

“We had a set play on that and it just bounced up on me; I went to pass it and the puck wasn’t there. It’s one of those things, unfortunately that one ended up in our net.”

What are you thinking when that happened?

“Oh spit (laughs). I tried to come back as hard as I can, I tried to force him and it was a good job by Andy (Greene) to force him to his backhand; it just snuck its way through.”

Would it have been worse for you mentally if you lost 1-0?

“Probably; the win kind of hides those kind of mistakes I guess.”|

Ilkka Pikkarainen:

Is that the way you envisioned your first goal happening?

“No, that was a lucky one, but I don’t care how they go in; I’m very happy.”

How does that first one feel, especially in a tight game?

“It feels good, we were struggling in the first period, but in second and third we did better.”

Did you think the shot was going in when you took it?

“No, (laughs) I was really happy it went in though. The goalie helped me a little bit there.”

How good does it feel that the team came out flat and still got the two points?

“Yeah, I’m happy that we got the two points.”

Martin Brodeur:

Scripting this I’d call it strange but true victories…

“Well definitely this one was kind of a weird one a bit, we didn’t play our best game. But we stuck with it and scored a big goal at the end; Patty again comes through for us.”

(Scott) Gomez almost got one (on you)…

“A couple of good shots, he kicked one in (on me). I thought we handled their offense pretty good, we had one breakdown — on one of our power plays — and they got a goal out of that. After that, a couple of screen shots, one hit me in the head in the second period there, but I thought defensively we did a great job against especially Gomer and (Mike) Cammalleri, who’s one of the hottest players.”

How surprised were you that the fans kept booing him?

“Well, it’s like anything, everybody’s demanding on being perfect every night and its all in their rights. We’re there trying our best and some nights it works and some nights it doesn’t and it’s just part of the game.”

No, I meant booing Gomez…

“Oh, I thought you meant our power play in the first period (laughs).”

They booed Gomez every time he was on the ice…

“They’ve got to get over it sometime (laughs), but I think he’s not playing for the Rangers anymore, so it’s not as bad. Even for us (players) I think the sentiment of him being somewhere else is a lot different, but fans are weird that way. I think they care about their team and when a guy goes out and does something like that — unless you’re like Bobby Holik and come back and play for us, they’ll start cheering him again.”

1,029 games — how many of them were like that one?

“Oh, I don’t know; that was kind of boring (out there). It’s a big win.”

Is it a gratifying win knowing that maybe the team wasn’t at its best tonight?

“I think we played a team that’s not doing really well right now, and you know that they’re going to try to keep it simple; they did, they didn’t really do much out there and they didn’t give us much opportunities either. They gave us a lot of power plays, but we didn’t do anything with them and we got a lucky goal on a shot over the net that (Carey) Price mishandled and after that we got kind of a cold shower on them — scoring that late goal, definitely nice.”

Another milestone (for you), what does this one mean?

“Well, durability as I’ve talked about for a few days. That’s what playing a lot of games is, it’s being durable, and it’s being successful; because if you’re not, the coach doesn’t put you in there. I’m definitely happy that it’s passed, we get to the next game and it’s over with and move on to just play hockey.”

Travis Moen’s shot went through your legs?

“I think so, he came in on his backhand and he waited (me) out. I was on my post and thought I had everything covered and he just snuck it right through my legs.”

Jacques Lemaire:

How would you describe this game?

“Well, I have to say at the start we got the penalties (against them). I thought we were playing exactly the way we wanted to play. Then, power plays, as I mentioned to the guys in there, power plays are great when you can take advantage; it will destroy the whole team when you don’t score; especially when you go 5-on-3. Then guys make the wrong pass, take the wrong shot or they don’t score. They get frustrated and if they can’t get that off their mind, it’s tough to play hockey like that. I think the power play just turned things around.”

Yet somehow the team hung in, Montreal never got that second goal…

“I don’t think they were better than we were (laughs), we were not good but they weren’t (any) better. They probably had five chances the whole game and we had eight or nine with all the power plays, so you look at the game — only the third period I thought it was decent. The best part of it was the last three minutes.”

How do you describe the rookie’s goal?

“Oh Pikk, I guess he wanted to keep the puck deep and the goalie tried to catch it in his glove and it went in; it’s just a lucky goal. But you know what, that’s what we needed.”