Here are some of the postgame quotes after the Devils 4-3 win over Toronto on Friday night:
The game didn’t exactly go the way you planned, are you happy with the result?
“Yeah, we found a way to get the two points; we know we didn’t play good until, maybe the last five minutes of that game. When we got it to 3-2, we started to pressure them a little more, getting in on the forecheck; we got a penalty called in our favor and we were able to capitalize. Then we got one with 20 seconds left so it was a weird game. We didn’t get much going until the end of the game.”
This game was similar to last Friday’s game against Toronto, wasn’t it?
“Yeah exactly, I think the first two periods we didn’t play with a lot of confidence, excitement; I don’t know what it was. We weren’t controlling the puck; we were making terrible plays and turning the puck over. In the third we came out with a little better performance and were able to sneak one away.”
Was part of that lack of energy the overexcitement of having a new player on the team?
“Yeah, maybe; I think this morning we were all pretty excited and we had a lot of energy at pre-game skate it felt like. Maybe we were a little too excited and weren’t ready for the game; but it looked like we didn’t have as much energy or we weren’t working hard or something, but it helps when you get a couple of goals. It was definitely exciting and hopefully we can build off this win.”
Talk about your goal…
“Just on the power play there, Kovalchuk had it at the point and he made a nice play to Dean-o; Dean sent it cross-ice to me and I was just able to get a pretty good shot away.”
You’ve been getting goals like that lately, on slap shots and one-timers, is that something you work on constantly?
“Yeah we work on it in practice; one-timers all the time. I just got all of that one for some reason.”
Kovalchuk jumped on you after that goal; how exciting of a moment was that…
“Yeah (smiles), you could see, just by the first game you can tell he wants to win, he’s a good teammate and he gets excited to score and win games; that’s what we need on this team.”
Talking about the power play…
“Having Kovy in the lineup, we need to draw penalties because having him is a huge weapon.”
What’s your take on Kovalchuk?
“Well he’s an exciting player; he’s a guy where the opposing team cares about where he is at all times. Eventually it will open up some ice for other people — you saw it on the power play with him faking the one-timer and passing it back to Dean-o. It opened that whole lane because the defender didn’t want to give that shot away from Kovy right in the middle of the ice like that. That’s what hopefully he’ll bring every night to us.”
Last week we talked about recent wild games against Toronto, does this one go right up with that?
“Definitely (chuckles), that was an interesting game; I think we played well for two periods and we were as bad as it gets for the second period, myself included. Turnovers were made and it wasn’t pretty out there, but I was able to make two big saves — one on (Phil) Kessel early in the third period and the toe save I made on (John) Mitchell — that kept the game still within reach and the guys took over in the last five minutes.”
Did the second Toronto goal hit one of your players on its way towards you?
“No it kind of screened me, a scissor-effect with the skate; I think (Colin) White was following the player and it went right through his legs — and I missed it a bit, I thought I was in good position. It just hit my stick and found a little hole in my five-hole.”
Talking about his goal…
“I just went to the net, Jamie (Langenbrunner) made a great play in the zone to kind of keep in it, he made a nice pass back to (Mike) Mottau and I just went to the net and got the rebound.”
Similar to last week’s game except this week your team scored the late goals?
“Yeah it was a nice comeback for us, we didn’t have our best game obviously, sometimes that happens when you get a new player and everybody’s trying to get him the puck.”
Can you describe what led to the turnaround?
“I cannot (smiles). The whole game I was asking the players to win battles, to make plays, to be better with the puck; we have to be better, we couldn’t do that. We did it only the last two minutes and fifty seconds — then everything was working — we were skating, passing the puck, making plays. How it happened, I just don’t know.”
Did (Vladimir) Zharkov’s pass to (Dean) McAmmond change the whole game there?
“I think it did. The guys on the bench were really excited about that goal and I heard some of them saying ‘hey we can come back, we can come back’ and for the first time in the game I saw that they were excited.”
Talking about the third period…
“We played (only) three lines at the end, most of the time. I was trying to find the combination that could work together; I probably tried everyone with everybody.”
Is Kovalchuk more than just a goal scorer?
“He can pass the puck, you can tell by the plays he’s making; he’ll be fine. He’s a guy that can’t do it on his own all the time; he will sometimes, but he needs help. I thought we played exactly like we’ve been playing lately — not enough energy on the ice, which we paid the price for. Now I’m trying to find the right answer, the right things to do, to make them play as hard as they can.”
Did you know he is getting better in the defensive aspect of the game?
“On the flight from Washington maybe he thought about that (smiles).”
You used (Anssi) Salmela almost twenty minutes, what did you think of him?
“He was fine; he played well. He was not a liability, he moved the puck fine; he just has to get used to the type of game that we’re playing.”
Did Zharkov have one of his better games?
“Zharkov played really well; I have to say that he was one of the best players (for us). He was skating, had puck control, and played hard defensively and offensively.”
How exciting was this win?
“Very exciting; I took a penalty in the second period and they scored. I was saying to myself that I had to do something because it wasn’t going to be a good debut.”
How many comebacks like this do you remember, this was pretty unusual?
“This year, with the Thrashers, we had quite a few. But it was great to play in front of this kind of crowd, they supported us all game long and nobody left the building.”
You mentioned Brodeur being meaningful, what do you mean by that?
“Yeah, the saves he made in the third period, on their power play, I think that was the key to the game.”
Were you nervous?
“No, not really. First shift, maybe, but the guys were supporting me real well.”
Were you trying to come back and play defense more often tonight?
“I will try always to do that; this year I was plus-1 when I left the Thrashers and that was a big change for me. I think in my career I am minus-95 or something, so hopefully that will change.”
How do you feel you played?
“It wasn’t my best game, but I think it was all right for my first game — especially that we got the two points.”
Can you sum up what the last 24-hours have been like for you?
“It’s not easy, but when you come to this kind of organization, where they’ve won three Stanley Cups, they definitely know how to win and they want to win. To make this move shows that they are serious and hopefully we can do some damage in the playoffs.”