Zach Attack! Parise & Devils Blow Past Hurricanes

Devils 4           Carolina 2

The New Jersey Devils picked up their first win of the new season on Monday afternoon, topping the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2 at the Prudential Center. Captain Zach Parise scored his first goal in a year’s time to start the scoring, and he sealed the win by scoring an empty-net goal with 1:06 left in the game. “Someone just told me it was a year between goals (for me), it’s always a good feeling scoring a goal. There’s a lot of excitement that rushes through you. When you’re not playing, or not scoring, you want that feeling back,” said Parise.

Johan Hedberg was the somewhat-surprise starter in net for New Jersey and the Moose was solid, turning aside 24 of 26 shots to even his team’s early season record at 1-1. “You usually have an early game routine and a late game routine,” said the Swedish netminder when asked how he prepared for the 1pm start time. “I usually find it hard to remember what I do (for day games) when it’s early in the season,” he added with a smile.

Parise scored 3:59 into the game, redirecting a shot-pass from Patrik Elias past ‘Canes goalie Cam Ward. “I felt like last game, the crowd was waiting for something to cheer about,” said Parise when asked if the first goal of the game (and season) was important. “Fortunately we were able to get one early, get that first one for the season out of the way and just settle down a little bit. We had a better start tonight.”

The game remained 1-0 until 8:56 into the second period when Alexei Ponikarovsky was the last player to touch the puck after a long shot from Tim Gleason pinballed off of a host of players in front of Hedberg’s crease. The tie didn’t last long, as Mark Fayne one-timed a circle-to-circle pass from Ilya Kovalchuk past Ward at 9:36.

Chad Larose evened the score again when his rocket shot deflected off of defender Henrik Tallinder’s stick and went over Hedberg’s shoulder and under the crossbar. “I should have had that. I got a piece of it, it hit the post and went in,” Hedberg explained afterwards. “I have to take a look at it (on video) and see what happened there.”

New Jersey had to kill off a two-man disadvantage early in the third period with the score still tied at two and did so thanks in large part to their defenseman and forward Dainius Zubrus. “Great job, from our goaltender to Zubrus upfront and the defensemen,” said coach Peter DeBoer. “I thought Zubrus did an outstanding job there at a critical time in the game.”

Kovalchuk, who had broken two of his sticks earlier in the game on attempted shots, finally netted his first goal of the season when he followed up his own shot and flicked the rebound over Ward for the eventual game-winner. “Those plastic sticks, they’re not very strong,” said a smirking Kovalchuk. “I should stop working out.” His linemate, Nick Palmieri, helped create the time and space that Kovalchuk needed on the goal that gave the Devils the momentum they needed to close out the first win for DeBoer as their new coach. “You breathe a sigh of relief,” said Palmieri after the team’s first win, “especially after getting shutout in the first game.”

Game Notes: New Jersey used the same exact lineup as they did in Saturday’s shutout loss; the only change was in goal, as Martin Brodeur got a rare early-season game off. For the second straight game the Devils’ PK was perfect, they were 5-for-5 against the Hurricanes and now are 13-for-13 this season. Petr Sykora assisted on Parise’s goal for his first point in his second-stint with the franchise. Larose led all players with five shots on goal, Parise, Kovalchuk and Elias led New Jersey with four each. Devils rookie defenseman Adam Larsson led all skaters in ice-time with 24:35 and Joni Pitkanen led Carolina with 23:08. Palmieri and ‘Canes blueliner Bryan Allen had two assists each. New Jersey (1-1-0) is off until Thursday when they host Los Angeles (1-1-0) and Carolina (0-2-1) will try again for their first win of the year on Wednesday when they host Boston (1-2-0).

Dan’s Three Stars of the Game:

#1 – Ilya Kovalchuk (NJ) – gw goal (1), 2 assists (2)

#2 – Zach Parise (NJ) – 2 goals (2)

#3 – Johan Hedberg (NJ) – 24 saves, win (1-0-0)

Dan Rice can be reached at drdiablo321@yahoo.com.

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Hedberg, Devils Keep Rolling

Earlier in the season the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders were in a battle to see who had the worst record in the NHL. Now they are two of the hottest teams in the league, and the Devils continued to rise from the dead on Wednesday night with their fifth straight win, topping the Carolina Hurricanes for the second time in eight days. New Jersey is now 12 points behind the eighth place ‘Canes with 25 games remaining.

Johan Hedberg made 25 saves as New Jersey raced out to a 3-0 lead and then held on for a 3-2 win. Ilya Kovalchuk continued his torrid second half pace, netting his 20th goal of the season to get the scoring started in the second period. After a scoreless opening twenty minutes, it was Kovalchuk (20 goals for the ninth consecutive season) who beat Cam Ward with a dazzling shot at 5:41, giving his team a lead they would never relinquish.

In the early stages of the third period Brian Rolston and Patrik Elias scored goals 1:25 apart, leaving Carolina dazed, confused and in a 3-0 hole. Both goals came during 4-on-4 play as the Devils exposed the ‘Canes with the extra space on the ice. First Rolston converted Elias’ rebound for his ninth goal of the year at :34 and then Elias buried a backhand shot past Ward after taking a cross-ice feed from Rolston.

Hedberg lost his bid for his second shutout of the year when Sergei Samsonov scored at 8:17 and Tuomo Ruutu finished the scoring with 2.8 seconds remaining, making the game seem closer than it actually was. Next up for the Devils are the floundering New York Rangers on Friday night at Prudential Center, before a rematch with the Hurricanes in Carolina on Saturday night.

Dan’s 3 Stars of the Game:
#1 — Johan Hedberg (NJ) — 25 saves, win (10): The Moose was solid again, now has .500 record
#2 — Ilya Kovalchuk (NJ) — goal (20): Kovy continues his torrid pace, money well spent
#3 — Patrik Elias (NJ) — gw goal (14), assist (29): NJ’s leading scorer continues to lead.

Kovalchuk Comes Up Clutch Again as Devils Nip Sharks

Two of the NHL’s hottest teams squared off on Friday night at the Rock as the San Jose Sharks visited the New Jersey Devils. The unstoppable force met the immovable object — San Jose is 9-0-1 in their last ten games, New Jersey is 5-0-1 over their last six contests. For the second night in a row the Devils won a game by a score of 2-1, and for the second night in a row Ilya Kovalchuk had the game-winning goal.

The game remained scorelees through two periods due to stellar and sharp netminding by the Devils’ Johan Hedberg and the Sharks’ Antti Niemi. Finally 6:08 into the third period Hedberg blinked first, surrendering Patrick Marleau’s 21st goal of the season on the 27th shot he faced in the game. Just over three minutes later Brian Rolston tied the game on a one-timer during a 4-on-3 power play, after a nice set-up pass by Kovalchuk.

Kovalchuk gave his team it’s first lead of the night with 3:59 left, firing a shot through Niemi’s arm/body after a face-off win by Travis Zajac; he now has 12 points (6g-6a) over his last nine games. The win moves the Devils only 11 points behind the 8th place Carolina Hurricanes. Kovalchuk’s goal was his sixth game-winner of the season and he now has points in seven consecutive games.

Dan’s 3 Stars of the Game:
#1 — Ilya Kovalchuk (NJ) — gw goal (19), assist (19): King Kovy strikes again.
#2 — Johan Hedberg (NJ) — 31 saves, win (9): The Moose has another solid performance.
#3 — Travis Zajac (NJ) — assist (24),  11 face-off wins: Who needs Zach Parise right Travis?

 

Kovalchuk’s OT Winner Lifts Devils Past Leafs

With one-third of the NHL season left, the New Jersey Devils are trying to pull off an improbable push for a playoff spot — the same Devils team that was once 28 points out of a postseason berth. After Thursday night’s 2-1 overtime victory in Toronto, New Jersey finds itself 13 points behind eighth-place Carolina with 27 games left in the season; they also play the Hurricanes twice over the next nine days.

Ilya Kovalchuk won the game with a brilliant rush up ice as the final seconds ticked away in overtime, his 18th goal of the season came with 24 seconds left in the hockey portion of the game.  He raced towards the net with both Maple Leaf defensemen in front of him (Dion Phaneuf and Keith Aulie) and fired a lightning-quick shot that goalie James Reimer got a piece of, but not enough to prevent the winning goal.

Both goalies were phenomenal in the game as Reimer (37 saves) and Johan Hedberg (31 saves) made key stops in limiting their opponents to one regulation goal each. Hedberg’s only mistake of the night came 5:18 into the second period when he was beaten by Nikolai Kulemin’s rising shot in front of the crease, his 21st goal of the season.

Toronto maintained the 1-0 lead until 3:23 into the third period when Dainius Zubrus deflected Mark Fayne’s long shot past an unsuspecting Reimer, after some great work by Zubrus to maintain puck possession in the offensive zone.

The win was especially special for coach Jacques Lemaire because it was the 600th of his career, a feat only accomplished by seven other bench bosses. During the postgame on MSG he seemed very happy, almost shocked, “I only heard about this last week” he joked, but the look on his face told you he was very proud of the accomplishment.

Dan’s 3 Stars of the game:
#1 — Ilya Kovalchuk (NJ) — gw goal (18): Clutch players make clutch plays.
#2 — James Reimer (Tor) — 37 saves, ot loss (1): Forget Jiggy and the Monster, this kid is the Goods.
#3 — Johan Hedberg (NJ) — 31 saves, win (8): The Moose was solid again, which Devs need in Brodeur’s abscence

Legace’s Long Road Back to the NHL

Here is the link for a story on Carolina Hurricanes goalie Manny Legace that I did for Maxhockey.com:

Legace’s Long Road Back to the NHL

Greene Powers Devils Past Hurricanes

Here is the link to my recap of the Devils’ 4-2 win over the Hurricanes on Wednesday night:

Greene Powers Devils Past Hurricanes

Dan’s Three Stars of the Game:

#1 – Andy Greene (NJ) – 2 goals, gw (5)

#2 – Zach Parise (NJ) – 2 assists (19)

#3 – Joni Pitkanen (Car) – 2 assists (11)

line combos/d-pairings

New Jersey:
Parise-Zajac-Bergfors
Rolston-Elias-Zharkov
Pandolfo-Niedermayer-Langenbrunner
Pelley-McAmmond-Pikkarainen

Greene-Salvador
Oduya-Fraser
Mottau-White

Carolina:
Whitney-E.Staal-Cole
Jokinen-Cullen-Ruutu
Larose-Sutter-Kostopoulos
Brind’Amour-Yelle-Walker

Gleason-Pitkanen
Alberts-Carson
A.Ward-Harrison

Brodeur & Devils Blank ‘Canes 2-0

Here is the link to my recap of Saturday’s Devils-Carolina game:

http://nycsportsnews.com/articles/details.htm?id=1020

Dan’s Three Stars of the Game:

#1 – Martin Brodeur (NJ) – 26 saves, win (4-3-0), shutout (1)

#2 – Can Ward (Car) – 27 saves, loss (2-4-1)

#3 – Jamie Langenbrunner (NJ) – gw goal (2)

More quotes to be posted…

Here are the line combos and d-man pairings used for most of the game:

New Jersey:
Parise-Niedermayer-Langenbrunner
Halischuk-Zajac-Bergfors
Pandolfo-Zubrus-Rolston
Leblond-Pelley-Clarkson

Martin-Salvador
Mottau-White
Greene-Oduya

Carolina:
Whitney-Staal-Ruutu
Samsonov-Cullen-Larose
Jokinen-Brind’Amour-Walker
Kostopoulos-Yelle-Conboy

Gleason-Pitkanen
A.Ward-Alberts
Corvo-Wallin