Devils Burn Flames with Shootout Win

Devils 2 Calgary 1       —          shootout

It took 22 games, but the New Jersey Devils finally won consecutive games on Wednesday night and they may be on the right path to correcting their wretched start. It took a shootout, but a win is a win is a win — as the Devils topped the Calgary Flames 2-1 at Prudential Center behind the stellar goaltending of Johan Hedberg, who finished with 26 saves. Ilya Kovalchuk, whose last appearance in a shootout was forgettable (the puck slid off his stick before he could get a shot off on November 10) scored the only goal of the tiebreaker as New Jersey’s first shooter and Hedberg denied all three Calgary shooters. “Moose deserved to be the first star tonight; he’s the guy who’s really helping us win right now, he’s playing unbelievable,” said Kovalchuk afterwards. “The way he played gives us so much confidence.”

David Clarkson opened the scoring 13:06 into the opening period when Mattias Tedenby’s wrist shot from the slot deflected off of his skate and past Flames’ rookie goalie Henrik Karlsson. “I was just standing in front of the net and Teddy (Tedenby) shot it; I was just standing there and it went off my shin pad,” Clarkson explained. “I think the refs thought I kicked it, that’s why they reviewed it, but it just nicked off my shin pad and went in.” On the scoring play New Jersey had kept the puck in the offensive zone after a power play expired, and Matt Corrente’s blue line shot found its way to the back of the net after it was blocked; Tedenby found the loose disc and immediately shot it — hitting Clarkson at the right time. “I guess I was just in the right place at the right time,” he said.

The Devils carried the 1-0 lead into the third period and Hedberg had stopped all 18 of Calgary’s shots to that point. But the Flames scored as their power play ended when Rene Bourque deflected Matt Giordano’s point shot into the back of the net 1:18 into the frame for his tenth goal of the season. “Even when you look at the one goal he gave up, I’m pretty sure it was a tip-in right? So, when somebody tips it, probably six feet in front of you, he can’t do anything about it,” said Devils’ winger Dainius Zubrus. “To me he was real good — again nothing really went by him; it’s huge.”

Hedberg and Karlsson continued to stop everything they saw as the game moved to a five-minute overtime, and the Flames rookie goalie saved his biggest stops for a Devils’ 4-on-3 two-minute advantage. New Jersey mustered five shots on their power play, two more than they managed in the twenty minute third period, but Karlsson stopped them all until he met Kovalchuk in the shootout. “It’s all about the two points. Both teams were desperate; those games are usually down to the end. I wish it wasn’t going to be shootout,” said Kovalchuk, “we should’ve won in overtime, but listen what are you going to do? One team has to win.”

Hedberg meanwhile, denied Niklas Hagman, Alex Tanguay and Brendan Morrison in succession during the shootout — sending his teammates’ home happy and ready to enjoy their Thanksgiving dinners. “I don’t know how much turkey we’re going to have,” said Zubrus, “but yeah it will taste better because we won for sure.”

Game Notes: New Jersey has now won three in a row at home after dropping their first seven home contests. Tedenby now has points in three straight games and six (3g-3a) in seven games since he made his NHL debut. Calgary defenseman Jay Bouwmeester played in his 445th consecutive game, which leads all active players. Devils defenseman Henrik Tallinder led all skaters in ice-time, logging 27:12 and Giordano led the Flames with 23:33. Bourque led all players with five shots on goal, while Patrik Elias led the Devils with four. New Jersey (7-13-2) is off until Friday afternoon when they play at the New York Islanders (4-12-5) and Calgary (8-11-2) also plays Friday afternoon when they visit Philadelphia (16-6-2)

Dan’s Three Stars of the Game:

#1 – Johan Hedberg (NJ) – 26 saves, win (3)

#2 – Ilya Kovalchuk (NJ) – g/w shootout goal

#3 – Henrik Karlsson (Cgy) – 20 saves, shootout loss (1)

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

Devils 4 Islanders 3 … preseason (10.01.10)

Last night at Prudential Center the New Jersey Devils raced out to a 4-1 lead over the New York Islanders and held on for a 4-3 win in front of an announced crowd of 13,596. Jason Arnott and Zach Parise had a goal and an assist each for the Devils, while Travis Zajac had two assists. For New York, Matt Moulson had a strong game with two goals and captain Doug Weight looked like his old self (after off-season shoulder surgery) with two assists.

Both goalies played the entire game: Martin Brodeur made 23 saves and Dwayne Roloson made 24; Jesse Joensuu also scored for the Isles and Patrik Elias and Brian Rolston chipped in goals for New Jersey. The same two teams play again tonight at the Nassau Coliseum, finishing out the preseason schedule. The Devils open the season on October 8, hosting the Dallas Stars and the Islanders open their season on October 9, also hosting Dallas. I will post some postgame quotes from Arnott, Brodeur & Zajac later today or tomorrow.

Here are the line combos/d-pairings that started the game for both squads:

New Jersey:
Parise-Zajac-Kovalchuk
Elias-Arnott-Tedenby
Rolston-Josefson-Langenbrunner
Mair-Pelley-Palmieri

Greene-Corrente
Tallinder-Urbom
White-Taormina

New York:
Joensuu-Weight-Kolanos
Moulson-Nielsen-Niederreiter
Bailey-Schremp-Rakhshani
Gillies-McAmmond-Ortmeyer

MacDonald-Hamonic
Hillen-Gervais
Jurcina-de Haan

Devils Clinch Atlantic Division

Here is my recap of the Devils 7-1 win over the NY Islanders on Saturday night:

Devils Clinch Atlantic Division

Devils 7           NY Islanders 1

The New Jersey Devils clinched their 9th Atlantic Division title on Saturday night when they beat the New York Islanders 7-1 at Prudential Center, and Pittsburgh lost 1-0 in Atlanta. Zach Parise, Travis Zajac and Ilya Kovalchuk all had three-point games in the win for New Jersey, which scored a season-high seven goals against the injury-riddled Islanders who were missing seven regulars from their lineup. For the Devils it was their fourth division title in five years and something Martin Brodeur has become accustomed to over his career. “You go into a building and look up at the banners and you’re like ‘I was a part of this, this, this,’” said Brodeur. “It’s fun; I’ve been here a long time, other guys for them it’s their first one and more to come.”

The Isles hung tough at first but in a span of 4:56 the Devils took control of the game — scoring three goals — and never looked back. Dainius Zubrus, Parise and Dean McAmmond scored in three different ways — at times leaving New York goaltender Martin Biron spinning in his crease. “We focused on playing hard — once we got two or three (goals) on them,” said McAmmond, “they knew it was over.”

Parise made it 2-0 and then McAmmond scored 90 seconds later to bump the lead to three goals. “I just grabbed the puck and their d-man was flat-footed,” explained McAmmond. “I just got on an angle, tried to go five-hole and it went to the outside of the net, handcuffed the goalie and the shot went off the net and the back of his knee. Sometimes they go in that way.”

Patrik Elias and Brian Rolston each scored power play goals in the second period (Kovalchuk had the primary assist on both) as the Devils advantage increased to 5-0.

Kovalchuk scored his own goal in the third period (on a nice deflection in front of the crease) making it 6-0 before Matt Moulson got the Isles lone goal during a power play with 6:50 left in the game; spoiling Brodeur’s bid for a third shutout in four games. “Five-on-five I don’t think they would’ve got anything on us,” said Brodeur, who missed out on shutout no. 111 of his career. “We made a little mistake and the guy hit the puck out of mid-air on the goal line there, so it is what it is.”

Elias scored the final goal of the barrage when his attempted pass from the corner sailed past Biron, deflecting off of Islanders’ defenseman Andrew MacDonald at 18:24. “It was a really big win for us; we’re trying to get ready for the playoffs here,” said Zajac, who had three assists. “To get scoring from all the lines, and the power play, it’s good for us going into the playoffs on a high note.”

Game Notes: New Jersey now has 101 points, the 12th time they topped one hundred points in team history and the 12th time in the past 13 seasons; the game was a sellout, the 15th of 2009-10. Elias now has 70 points in 65 career games against New York, the most of any active player vs. the Isles. Devils defenseman Paul Martin had two assists and led all skaters in ice-time with 22:23; Mark Streit led the Islanders with 22:00. Kovalchuk led all players with six sots on goal and Kyle Okposo led New York with four; Isles defenseman Freddy Meyer led all players with four hits. Both teams will play their final regular season games on Sunday — New Jersey (47-27-7) hosts Buffalo (45-26-10) in a battle for the East’s second seed and New York (34-37-10) hosts Pittsburgh (46-28-7).

Dan’s Three Stars of the Game:

#1 – Travis Zajac (NJ) – 3 assists (42)

#2 – Ilya Kovalchuk (NJ) – goal (41), 2 assists (43)

#3 – Patrik Elias (NJ) – 2 goals (19)

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

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

Martin-Skoula
White-Mottau
Greene-Salvador

NY Islanders:
Moulson-Park-Okposo
Bergenheim-Tavares-Sim
Tambellini-Nielsen-Hunter
Gillies-Haley-Jackman

Streit-Gervais
Hillen-MacDonald
Meyer-Reese