Road Warrior Canucks Escape New Jersey with 2-1 Win

Vancouver 2               Devils 1

The Vancouver Canucks came into Prudential Center on Friday night with the NHL’s best road record (21-10-2) and then left the arena with another road win, beating the New Jersey Devils 2-1, by holding off a torrid attack over the game’s final 40 minutes. The Devils were unable to tie the game thanks in large part to Canucks goalie Cory Schneider, who made 30 saves and was easily the star of the game.

“We’ve played five games in seven nights, in seven different cities,” Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said of his team, who managed only 16 shots on goal after playing and winning the previous night in Detroit. “It’s very challenging to say the least, obviously there was nothing left in the tank tonight. Our guys did everything they could on the ice and we were very fortunate tonight to get some unreal goaltending.”

Vancouver defenseman Aaron Rome started the scoring 8:44 into the game when he alertly followed up on a shot from his partner Christopher Tanev that Martin Brodeur couldn’t control. The puck deflected off of the paddle of Brodeur’s goal stick and careened directly to Rome who scored his fourth goal of the season.

The Canucks doubled their lead to 2-0 when Mason Raymond fired a wrist shot past Brodeur 2:07 into the second period; Raymond’s shot from just outside the right face-off circle hit Devils’ defenseman Andy Greene’s skate before eluding Brodeur. After that goal New Jersey really picked up their game and began firing quality shot after shot at Schneider, who was gobbling them all up while allowing very few rebounds.

David Clarkson finally solved Schneider (scoring for the third consecutive game) when he converted his 24th goal of the season on a nifty pass from Patrik Elias into a wide open net side at 11:30. Elias faked as if he were about to shoot the puck and then sent a perfect slap-pass to Clarkson for an easy tip-in goal.

The Devils continued to increase the pressure on Vancouver over the final two periods, but Schneider was there at every turn, stopping 22 of the 23 shots he faced. “He’s a good goalie, I played against him in college,” said New Jersey defenseman Matt Taormina after the team’s first loss in five games. “Every year he has backed up (Roberto) Luongo really well, he can be a starter almost anywhere. He’s a really good goalie who’s hard to get a lot of rebounds off of. We just couldn’t bury our chances that we needed to.”

During the game it was announced that New Jersey had traded defenseman Kurtis Foster, forwards Nick Pamieri and Stephane Veilleux and two draft picks to Minnesota for defenseman Marek Zidlicky. He should provide help on the Devils power play, as 40 of his 60 career goals have come during man advantages. Devils coach Peter DeBoer is happy to have another piece added to his roster heading towards the playoffs. “He’s experienced, he can move the puck, we’ve got a pretty good handle on this guy. Patrik (Elias) knows him, assistant Dave Barr worked with him in Minnesota, Jacques Lemaire coached him in Minnesota; I think all of the reports I’ve heard are very positive.”

Prior to the game there was a brief ceremony to honor longtime television play-by-play voice of the Devils — Mike “Doc” Emrick. He stepped away from the position during the summer to spend more time at home after 21 seasons of work with the team and the franchise brought him back so the fans and some of the players could say thank you. He can still be heard on NHL games that air on NBC and NBCSN, as well as the hockey portion of the Olympics.

Game Notes: With the assist on Clarkson’s goal, Elias now has 13 points in 15 career games against Vancouver. Brodeur fell to 6-12 in 18 career games against the Canucks, by far his worst record against any NHL team. Ilya Kovalchuk led all skaters in ice-time with 26:34 and defenseman Kevin Bieksa led the Canucks with 23:57. Rome led all players with four blocked shots, while Devils’ winger Steve Bernier led all players with six hits. Zach Parise led all players with seven shots on goal, four players on Vancouver had two each. New Jersey (35-21-4) is off until Sunday afternoon when they host Tampa Bay (27-26-6) and Vancouver (39-16-6) will finish their road trip that same afternoon in Dallas (31-26-4).

Dan’s 3  Stars of the Game:
#1 — Cory Schneider (Van) — 30 saves, win (14-5-0)
#2 — Mason Raymond (Van) — gw goal (7)
#3 — David Clarkson (NJ) — goal (24)

Dan Rice can be reached at drdiablo321@yahoo.com

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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.

Devils Fire Blanks in Opener vs. Flyers

Philadelphia 3               Devils 0

The 2011-12 edition of the New Jersey Devils started their new season on Saturday night looking to get off to a fast start, unlike last season’s squad which dropped its first three games. Unfortunately no one informed the Philadelphia Flyers about these plans as they controlled the play and pace of the game virtually all night en route to a 3-0 win in front of a sold-out crowd at the Prudential Center.

Despite the disappointing loss in which the Devils (the worst offensive team last season in terms of goals scored) failed to score a single goal, there were some positives to take out of the game. Martin Brodeur made 26 saves, and was the main reason the score was only 1-0 heading into the third period; “He was outstanding, by far our best player,” said coach Pete DeBoer, who made his debut behind New Jersey bench.

The team’s new captain Zach Parise made it through the entire game without incident and appears to be rounding back into his All-Star form following a knee injury that cost him 69 games last season. “I felt pretty good, my legs were good, but I still need to have a little more patience with the puck,” said the newest and ninth captain in team history.

Finally, despite taking way too many penalties, the Devils killed off all eight power plays that they gave the Flyers. “We did take a lot of penalties, so it was tough to generate anything in the third period,” said Parise afterwards. “I thought our PK did a good job, it got called on a lot, and there were some good things that we did out there.”

Claude Giroux scored the first goal of the game 12:05 into the first period burying a one-timer past Brodeur after a pretty backhand pass from James van Riemsdyk. Andreas Nodl (KNOW-duLL) almost made it 2-0 when he roared in on Brodeur on a shorthanded breakaway during the dying seconds of the opening frame, but New Jersey’s netminder stifled the attempt with a midseason-form save. “Yeah (his shot) hit my shoulder; noodle or however you pronounce his name,” said a laughing Brodeur. “He made a good shot and it hit off of my shoulder.”

The Devils improved their play in the second period, but were still unable to get any pucks past Philly’s Ilya Bryzgalov and still trailed on the scoreboard. “It looked to me like we were at practice speed and they were at NHL game speed,” said DeBoer after the loss. “Our reaction time never caught up with where theirs was tonight.”

He was absolutely right in his assessment and his team imploded, surrendering two goals in a span of 2:19and then proceeded to take needless penalty after needless penalty — sabotaging any slim chance of coming back against Philadelphia. Matt Read scored his first career NHL goal from the slot, muscling a shot into the back of the net that Brodeur got a piece of at the 2:31 mark. “I saw it,” said Brodeur, “it just kind of snuck through between my arm and my body.” The lead increased to 3-0 when Wayne Simmonds beat both Anton Volchenkov and Bryce Salvador to a loose puck in front of the crease just asPhiladelphia’s power play had expired.

Less than four minutes after his goal, Simmonds fought David Clarkson — and beat him soundly — putting the exclamation point on a workmanlike Flyers victory. “I think we have less than 48 hours until our next game,” said Parise. “We’ll come in tomorrow and identify some things we didn’t do right and fix them.”

Game Notes: Before the game there was a moment of silence and very touching video tribute in honor of all of the players that the hockey world lost this summer; The Devils honored former teammates Karel Rachunek and Alexander Vasyunov with memorial patches on their jerseys that they will wear again next Saturday night; the jerseys will then be signed by the entire team and auctioned off with the proceeds going to the Rachunek and Vasyunov families. The 4th overall pick in this past June’s draft, Adam Larsson, had a nice debut despite the ugly loss: 21:46 of ice-time (tops among NJ defensemen), three shots on goal, two hits and one blocked shot. Ilya Kovalchuk and Nick Palmieri were both -3 on the night. Kovalchuk led all skaters in ice-time with 23:30; Chris Pronger led the Flyers with 22:57. Philadelphia’s Andrej Meszaros led all players with five shots on goal; four Devils had three shots on goal each. New Jersey rookie Brad Mills won 10-of-11 face-offs he took and his teammate Jacob Josefson won eight-of-ten. Philadelphia (2-0-0) is off until their home opener on Wednesday when they hostVancouver (0-0-1) and New Jersey (0-1-0) is back in action Monday afternoon when they host Carolina (0-2-0).

Dan’s Three Stars of the Game:

#1 – Claude Giroux (Phi) – gw goal (2)

#2 – Wayne Simmonds (Phi) – goal (1)

#3 – Ilya Bryzgalov (Phi) – 20 saves, win (2-0-0), shutout (1)

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

Devils-Islanders PostGame Quotes [03.30.11]

Here are the postgame quotes after the Devils 3-2 win over the Islanders last night:

Jacob Josefson:

Talking about his goal…

“It was a good play by Kovy and Nick there; the rebound came right out to me and all I had to do was put it in the net.”

Was it one of those, ‘Oh, look what I found?’

“Yeah, it was a lucky bounce for me and found myself looking at an empty net. It was kind of lucky.”

Your team was shutout the last two games, how much did it help for the team to get an early goal tonight?

“Obviously we wanted to come out and play a better game; we’re not happy when we’re not scoring. It was a big goal by Kovy, and it was a good feeling to have it come so early.”

Martin Brodeur:

Was it important to get back on the winning side of games?

“It’s definitely a different territory for all of us to go into the final seven games; we know it’s going to be over on April 10 at 6 o’clock. So you have to find that motivation to go out, I think the coaches have been really hard on us the last few days to make us understand that we need to work hard and take this seriously. I think the guys have responded to it, the way we have been working in practice and the way we had this effort tonight. I think it’s important to leave this season with a good taste (in our mouths). We’ve come a long way, played really well in the second half, so let’s not try to destroy that; I think that is the message they are trying to push us towards. It’s definitely tough, we just have to go and say ‘let’s play a hockey game, and we might as well try to win it.’ I think if we keep having good starts like we did today, I think it’ll be easier. If it goes the other way, that’s where we’ll be challenged as far as the effort is concerned.”

Despite the situation is the way that you played, for a long time now, satisfying?

“Yeah, personally he’s been playing me a lot, maybe a lot more than I expected (laughs) to play down the stretch here. But I think for me to feel the way I’m feeling, I feel that I make a difference every game; I just want to keep it up for my own sanity I guess, for the summer, to know that I was able to contribute and still be able to play and make a difference. It was hard on me early on in the season, so for me hopefully I have a few more games to go and I just want to play them well.”

Is it strange when you look at your stats this season and they don’t look like most of your other seasons?

“Well it’s just the wins really; the losses are about the same (chuckles). The goals-against average is the same as last year; so besides the wins, Heddy got the rest for me. But it is not satisfying at all; I’m used to better stats than that. I guess it was bound to happen one year and hopefully we turn it around next year. I’m reflecting the team because I play a lot of games.”

Do you think the shorthanded goal threw you guys back a little bit?

“Yeah I think so. We’ve been working a lot on breakouts, getting the right wing to come out and attack. I think we’ve done it before, but got a little confused and we just gave up a first-half of the season kind of giveaway.”

When you see a breakaway like that, do you immediately recognize who it is coming down on you?

“Yeah I knew exactly who it was. He scored on me on a shootout with that backhand, I knew he was going to go there and I couldn’t get enough momentum. It’s different when you do a shootout then a breakaway; I just didn’t get out far enough to get speed to really attack his backhand. I just kind of stayed flat and he was able to just raise it by me.”

It got a little hairy at the end there where you were sprawling on the ice to make some saves there…

“It got a little dicey there at the end, but we pulled it off. We were cruising, I thought we were playing real well, they had some shots, but the quality chances were really limited. After the breakaway goal they were feeling good about themselves and really came at us the last ten minutes, but we showed some nice character there scoring a goal after losing our lead like that.”

Nick Palmieri:

How much of a lift was it to get the first goal?

“After not scoring in two games, it was considerable. That was obviously a big focus coming into tonightto score some goals. I think it definitely gave us a confidence boost for the rest of the game.”

Jacques Lemaire:

Were you pleased with your team’s start tonight?

“I thought we played really well until the four-minute power play we had in the third period. The Islanders had some chances and they have some players that move the puck and can beat people one-on-one, they see the ice well; so they will get some chances. But I was pretty happy the way our guys played.”

Were you happy with the way they responded after allowing the tying goal?

“Yeah, definitely; after the power play they had their top line on and I put Patrik’s line out there to play against them and they did a good job. That was an important time in the game, because they just tied it and I thought Patrik and his line did really good against them.”

How important was it to get that early goal to kind of lift some of the pressure off of your team?

“Well we drove at the net, we made plays towards the net that gave us a chance to get these goals; and it’s always good when the game starts, you’re playing well and you get rewarded for it.”

How about Pamieri’s performance tonight?

“I thought he played good, the whole line played really well. They had some chances, the thing with a team like this, their defensemen are good skaters, and their forwards move the puck well. Every time we lose the puck it’s so important to get back (defensively) and this is one thing that we’ve been trying to work with Nick. Sometimes he forgets it, or feels it’s not as important, but he’s getting better and if he keeps doing it he’ll be a pretty good player.”

Greene Powers Devils Past Islanders

Devils 3           NY Islanders 2

For the first time since the spring of 1996 it appears that the New Jersey Devils will not be a participant in the NHL’s Stanley Cup playoffs, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have something to play for over their disappointing season’s final seven games. “It’s definitely a different territory for all of us to go into seven games left and you know the season is going to be over come April 10 at 6 o’clock,” admitted Martin Brodeur afterwards. “I think it’s important that you leave the season with a good taste. We’ve come a long way, really (played) well in the second half and so let’s no try to destroy that.” After blowing a two-goal lead in the third period, defenseman Andy Greene scored with 4:56 left in the game and gave New Jersey a 3-2 win over the New York Islanders on Wednesday night at Prudential Center.

The Devils had been shutout in each of their previous two games and their scoring drought eventually lasted a total of 178 minutes and 12 seconds when Ilya Kovalchuk gave his squad a 1-0 lead 4:17 into the game. Kovalchuk’s 28th goal of the year was set up by a nice pass from rookie Nick Palmieri to the Russian sniper in the slot. “Coming off of two shutout losses, it’s nice to bounce back and get a win,” said the 21-year-old Palmieri. New Jersey maintained the one-goal lead into the second period and extended that lead when Jacob Josefson found a rebound from Palmieri’s in-close shot and stuffed it past Islanders’ netminder Rick DiPietro.

The Islanders were unable to get a shot through Brodeur until they took a four-minute high-sticking penalty 7:57 into the third period. Isles center Frans Nielsen scored his league-leading seventh shorthanded goal on a clean breakaway after a turnover in the neutral zone. “We had a ‘first half of the season’ type of breakaway,” said Brodeur when asked what went wrong on the play.

“I knew exactly who it was, he scored on me in the shootout on his backhand; I knew he was going to go there. I couldn’t get enough momentum to make the save, different situation then on a shootout breakaway.” Nielsen’s 7 SH goals in one season tied a franchise record held by Bob Bourne 30 years ago. Four minutes and six seconds later it was Nielsen who scored again, getting credit for the tying goal after a goalmouth scramble in Brodeur’s crease.

The tie didn’t last long as Greene flipped a long shot past DiPietro from the top of the left circle, allowing the Devils to recapture the lead. Brodeur was the more active of the two goalies on this night and was able to make the crucial saves at crucial times, ensuring the victory with 27 saves. “He plays with a lot of confidence, a lot quicker in the net,” said coach Jacques Lemaire of his goalie. “I’m sure he feels good about his game.”

Besides pride and doing their jobs, another motivation for New Jersey is to finish the season at .500, meaning they must win the final six games; the last Devils team to finish below .500 was pre-Brodeur days, back in 1990-91.

Game Notes: New Jersey finished the six-game season series with New York 4-2-0. Nielsen has eight shorthanded points this season, also first among all NHL players, perhaps he should get some serious consideration for the Selke Trophy. Palmieri’s two-point game (2a) was the first multi-point game of his career. Devils forward Rod Pelley played in his 200th NHL game. Greene led all skaters in ice-time with 28:55 and defenseman Jack Hillen led New York with 23:40. Kovalchuk led all players with eight shots on goal; Nielsen led the Islanders with six. Devils rookie defenseman Mark Fayne led all players with five blocked shots and Hillen led the Isles with four. Josefson now has four points (2g-2a) in three games against the Islanders.

 

Dan’s Three Stars of the Game:

#1 – Frans Nielsen (NYI) – 2 goals, sh (13)

#2 – Ilya Kovalchuk (NJ) – goal (28), assist (26)

#3 – Nick Palmieri (NJ) – 2 assists (7)

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

Zubrus Zaps Sens

Predictably, last night Devils game vs. Ottawa started slow, with a very uneventful 1st period. Nick Palmieri got the scoring started 35 seconds into the 2nd period for New Jersey, a lead that lasted until the sneaky Alex Kovalev scored during a 5-on-3 at 5:09, leaving the score tied 1-1.

After 2 periods the Devils were outshooting the Senators 25-6…heck, the Jersey blueliners were outshooting Ottawa’s entire team 10-6 after 2 periods; but the score was still tied. Sens’ rookie goalie Robin Lehner (2nd career start) was outstanding during the game and was the main reason why his team wasn’t blown out of the building. Ilya Kovalchuk almost gave the Devs the lead with 7 minutes left in the game with a nifty wraparound,but was unable to complete the move thanks to the post.

Martin Brodeur wasn’t tested often early in the game, but when he was tested he was sharp and turned aside all 9 shots he faced in the 3rd. Finally with 5:43 left Dainius Zubrus ‘attempted pass deflected off of Ottawa d-man Chris Phillips stick and over Lehner’s left shoulder — one of the whackiest goals you will ever see and definitely some puck luck that the Devils were lacking over the first 40 games of the year.

Next up, Thursday at the New York Rangers. The win was NJ’s fourth in a row at home and their defensive game appears to be back to the way we remember the last 14 seasons.

Impressive games tonight by Patrik Elias, Rod Pelley and Tim Sestito for the Devs. If Kovalev is available via trade, a playoff contender should jump on him immediately, he could make a big impact in the right situation.

Dan’s 3 Stars of the Game:

#1 — Robin Lehner (Ott) — 31 saves, loss (1)
#2 — Dainius Zubrus (NJ) — gw goal (8)
#3 — Martin Brodeur (NJ) — 15 saves, win (11)

Devils-Maple Leafs Postgame Quotes [01.29.10]

Here are some of the postgame quotes after Friday’s  5-4  Devils win in overtime over the Maple Leafs:

Zach Parise:

Does it feel good to put something in the net?

“Yeah, it feels good for us to put some goals in. We let them back in there, getting two late ones, but it does feel good to get some offense going and to get some pucks in.”

It looked like you wanted that third one really bad?

“I did, and I had plenty of opportunities; I just, I don’t know, it just wasn’t meant to be a night for the hat trick.”

Will you settle for the game-winning assist?

“Yeah, that’s good enough for me.”

What did you see on the game-winning play?

“Well the first time when Travis passed down to me and I tried to give it back to Rollie on the far side, at the last second I saw Travis come down, wide open for a one-timer — so next time I wanted to find him stepping into one. He got good wood on it, I’m not sure if (Vesa) Toskala saw it.”

You had a couple of chances to get that third one?

“Yeah, more than a couple, plenty of them; like I said, that third one just didn’t want to go in tonight.”

What happened in that third period?

“I think they started to play a little better, and then they started to put a lot more pressure on us, created some turnovers and once they got the third goal they had a lot of momentum; it’s something we don’t want to make a habit of.”

Nice that the team finally scored a couple goals?

“It’s great for us to put some pucks in the net, it’s been pretty tough for us to score lately, but it feels pretty good to do it tonight.”

I know it was a lot of goals-ago, but do you remember the first two goals you scored?

“Yeah, the first one I don’t know if Zubie was trying to shoot it or if he saw me on the back side — I had a wide open net. The second one Zubie made a really good pass to me — he said he didn’t see me; it was because I was coming down the slot yelling for the puck. He put it right on my tape and I think it went under (Jonas) Gustavsson’s arm.”

What does Zubrus’ presence bring to your line?

“He did a really good job tonight in the corners, making smart plays. He’s so big and he’s able to hold onto the puck and cycle with us and a lot of times we created turnovers in the offensive zone and were able to maintain pressure.”

Travis Zajac:

What did the coach say during the timeout in overtime?

“He didn’t say much, just to set up the PP how we wanted and go from there; we were able to get one.”

Strange game tonight…

“I think for the first two periods we had the gas pedal down, we were on them and pressuring them, making them turn the puck over; in the third period we kind of let off and they got a couple of chances and breaks. They came back, which isn’t like us but we were able to battle back in the end.”

Talk about the winning goal…

“We just wanted to set up the box and I sent it down to Zach; he made a nice pass in my wheelhouse and I was able to get a good shot on net with Zubie in front.”

Martin Brodeur:

Were you screened on their first goal?

“I don’t remember, what was the first goal, first period?

Shot from the point?

“In the first period? Yeah it tipped; hit my player, maybe ten feet in. It hit (Rod) Pelley’s stick and went up in the air; (Mark) Fraser went to cover the guy at the same time and it hit the crossbar and in. Sorry I drew a blank, too many goals against. It’s usually one and I’m able to explain pretty good.”

What did you see on the breakaway by Colton Orr?

“I just got big; I didn’t think he was going to be able to shoot it anywhere. I went down early and figured he was just going to try to go through me because he was holding up and he just flipped it. It just kind of went through me; I was a little off-balance because he didn’t shoot it hard at all.”

You’ve had some crazy games with Toronto over the last few years, any reason for that?

“I don’t know; I wish I had an answer for you. There’s teams that you react different ways and I would like to be solid against every single team, but for some reason, especially in this building, we always have weird games against these guys — it’s been (that way) for years.”

What did you see during the last five minutes?

“I think we just thought the game was over almost. You could tell with the intensity, we didn’t have anymore forecheck — they were forechecking — we turned the puck over a bunch and it was kind of a tough break on Sal (Bryce Salvador) where he coughed it up and it went right on the guy’s stick in front of the net. From there it’s only a one-goal game and, again, we turned the puck over and they put it in. It’s just something that we haven’t done this year a lot, especially with leads, definitely it’s nice to be able to come out on top even though we let go of a two-goal lead late in the game like that.”

Dainius Zubrus:

Was it nice playing with those two guys tonight?

“Yeah!”

Were you excited?

“I was excited, I didn’t know until the beginning of the game and we started the game together. I knew I had to keep skating, keep my feet moving and be ready to play a good, puck-control game with making plays. That’s what happened in the first two periods.”

How and when did you find out?

“In the warm-ups I asked who am I going to go with and that’s when Mario (Tremblay) told me that I’m going on the right side. Even during warm-ups it doesn’t mean much, but we started the game and had a couple of good shifts early and then stayed that way for the first couple of periods.”

How much closer do you feel to 100%?

“I feel pretty good; I don’t feel like I’m doing any harm.”

Playing with these guys will make you feel better right?

“Yeah, I think so. You guys asked me if I’m excited, yeah, it was fun; you get to know before the game that you’re playing with those two guys — like I said they make things happen, they hold onto the puck. They’re going to make something happen, they don’t just get rid of it; they try to make plays and you have to be ready.”

Talk about the winning goal where you were standing in front…

“Well that was my job, trying to be in front of the net — Travis has a great shot and so does Rollie, we tried to set Travis for a shot and me in front of it. It seemed like Zach put it right where Trav wanted it and he put it right on net; I haven’t seen the replay of it, but it went through.”

Jacques Lemaire:

What did you learn tonight?

“Well I learned that maybe because I didn’t see Toronto play that much, I learned that they can score goals; they don’t quit, they keep coming, they played exactly the same way from the start to the end. At the end I felt that they looked better because we slowed down, just tried to stand in the neutral zone instead of getting on the puck.”

Did the giveaway that led to the third goal give them life?

“That gave them some life, definitely; but still we should have been more intense on the puck, skated a little more. You look at our game, we had about six or seven guys up front playing as well as they could.”

When did you decide that Zubrus was going to play on the top line?

“About five minutes before the game.”

What was so good about him on that line?

“When he first started, the first couple of shifts he was just average — and after that, I don’t know what happened — he just started to control the puck and play like I’ve seen him play in the past. Especially the way he played with Zach and Travis, it helps to get better, but you could see that he was as good as could be.”

On the winning goal is that a plan as far as the way it went in?

“I have a lot of plans, but they’re not all done, they’re not executed every time. But it’s a play that we work on, definitely.”

Why did you put Zubrus on that line?

“Well I wanted to have at least two lines that would be able to score, because I look at Toronto and they have two lines that are scoring. So I felt that I’ll put Jamie (Langenbrunner) with Rollie and maybe give us some offense; and then Zubrus, he was on the fourth line and I was looking at their first line and I felt they have a pretty good first line; (Nick) Palmieri, he doesn’t have enough experience to play against them. I was looking for a guy that had experience.”

Patrick Davis’ first goal, what did you think about it?

“I thought he played really well, he works really hard and was rewarded for the effort that he puts in.”

Why did you remove Zubrus from the top line after the second period?

“I tried to make another line better.”