Six Devils Score in Crazy 6-4 Win Over Tampa

It wasn’t the prettiest game defensively, but the New Jersey Devils showed how dangerous they can be offensively when they rallied three times from one-goal deficits to blast past the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-4 on Thursday night at Prudential Center. Six different players scored a goal in the win, showing just how deep their scoring depth is, matching the goal output they had in their three previous games; five Devils had multiple points in the win. For Tampa the lone bright spot was Ryan Malone who scored his team’s first three goals in recording his fourth career hat trick.

Malone opened the scoring with 44 seconds left in the first period, slamming the puck in from the side of Martin Brodeur’s  net after a point shot softly redirected to him.

Once the second period began, all hell broke loose in the Devils’ house; Dainius Zubrus scored a shorthanded goal at 3:07, converting a perfect saucer-pass from Patrik Elias at the end of a two-on-one. “It was the end of our shift, so we were a little tired,” said Zubrus of the odd-man rush. “Patty made a really nice saucer pass, over the defender’s stick; and it was flat, right on my (stick) tape. I don’t think you can ask for a better pass, and I just shot it right away.” Malone responded for the Lightning 93 seconds later when his attempted pass went past Brodeur off of New Jersey defenseman Marek Zidlicky’s skate. Jacob Josefson retied the game for the Devils 2:14 after Malone’s second goal, snapping a shot past the oft-helpless Tampa netminder Dwayne Roloson.

Malone completed his hat trick at 10:13, giving the Lightning their final lead of the game when he was able to sweep a rebound past Brodeur from the edge of the goalmouth. Ilya Kovalchuk netted his team-leading 33rd goal after a pretty passing play with Zach Parise and Adam Henrique just over three minutes later, setting the stage for the Devils to grab a hold of the see-saw game. Six seconds into a power play Zidlicky atoned for his earlier misfortune when he blasted a rocket past Roloson to give New Jersey its first lead of the night, just 71 seconds after Kovalchuk had tied the game.

Alexei Ponikarovsky deftly tipped Bryce Salvador’s long shot past Roloson 2:25 into the final period; although the goal was announced as Salvador’s first of the season it was changed later by the official scorer. “I want to see the proof,” joked Salvador after the game. “I have to make sure Alex tipped it.” Ponikarovsky said he knew he had tipped it and told his teammate that on the bench. “I tipped it with my stick at my waist, I knew it was a good goal, there was no doubt in my mind (that it was mine).”

Less than four minutes later, Ponikarovsky and David Clarkson controlled the puck in Tampa’s zone for a while which resulted in the latter finding the puck and scoring his 29th of the season from atop the crease. Trevor Smith scored the final goal of the game with nine seconds remaining, only changing the final score but not the outcome. “We can’t be overconfident (after tonight),” said Ponikarovsky. “The next game, everything goes back to zero; we have to win another game. We have to do the same things and work hard to get goals.”

New Jersey’s magic number is down to one point — gained by them or lost by Buffalo.

Game Notes: Zidlicky led all skaters in ice-time with 21:33, while Tampa defenseman Victor Hedman led his squad with 21:12. Kovalchuk led all players with seven shots on goal and Malone led the Lightning with six. Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov, playing in his first game since last Friday, had a game-high of four hits, also matched by Ponikarovsky. Henrique had two assists and was a +3 (game-high). Travis Zajac, playing in his third game back won 14 of the 18 face-offs he took. New Jersey (94 points, 6th in East) is off until Saturday when they play at Carolina (77 points, 13th in East) and that same night Tampa (77 points, 11th in East) returns home to host Winnipeg (78 points, 10th in East).

Dan’s 3 Stars of the Game:
#1 — Ilya Kovalchuk (NJ): goal (33), assist (44)
#2 — Ryan Malone (TB): 3 goals (18)
#3 — Patrik Elias (NJ): 2 assists (47)

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

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Devils-Lightning Postgame Quotes [12.04.09]

Here are some of the postgame quotes after Friday’s 3-2 Devils win over the Lightning:

Vladimir Zharkov:

You had your first career point – an assist on the second goal – talk about the play…

“There were two guys behind the net, I wasn’t sure if he was going to pass. He missed the puck and tried to pass it again, and I got my stick on it; Bergy made a nice shot.”
It was nice to get an easy point like that right?

“Yeah, I like to get points. It was a very hard game, after we lost last game. It was good for our team, for me.”

A couple of times you collided with Tampa’s Victor Hedman, he’s a pretty big guy right?

“Yeah, he’s a big guy; the NHL is filled with big guys. It’s no problem for me, I can play against them big or small – it doesn’t matter, this is the NHL, you know.”

Martin Brodeur:

Was it a slow start tonight?

“A little slow, I thought the game was slow; they weren’t faster than us. It was just that we wanted to make sure we started well; I thought we played well, but we didn’t create much, for whatever reason. They didn’t give us a lot of room out there, so it was kind of a chess match.”

Talk about Matthew Corrente stepping up with two fights tonight…

“It’s nice; I don’t know much about that part of his game because I don’t see him play in the minors when he was there, but he’s been holding his own really well here. I think he’s done that, especially against the guys he’s fighting, he’s in a pretty good weight class there. It’s definitely nice when the young guys show that they belong as far as the physical aspect of the NHL game is.”

Did you see Steve Downie set up there on the tying goal?

“No. I was looking at (Ryan) Malone going across and I just saw (Steven) Stamkos wide open, so I got in position as fast as I could; he’s a shooter not a passer, you know? He kind of fooled me there too, like everybody. I can’t worry about a guy back over there (behind me). He had a prime shot there, it was a good play.”

The first goal did it go between the post and your leg pad?

“My skate, yeah I think it went off of my skate and just trickled in a couple of inches.”

You’ve seen some good defenseman come through here, how impressed with Andy Greene are you?

“Well, it’s definitely nice for him to get the opportunity to get the type of ice-time he’s getting. He’s been working really hard throughout the last few years, he’s been in-and-out of the lineup and been questioned a lot. So definitely, for us players, you feel for guys like that do everything and are a good teammate. For him to get this opportunity and do so well, it couldn’t happen to a better guy.”

Victor Hedman:

Frustrating the way you lost tonight?

“Oh yeah, big time. We came back strong to tie it, with three minutes left. But we have to play a full 60 minutes. We had them beat at home (too) when they scored with one second left when they tied the game, in our home opener. We have to play the full 60 minutes.”

They’ve beaten your team ten straight times, it has to be frustrating in that regard?

“Yeah, very frustrating, absolutely; I know we play them once more this year, so we’ll try to get that game.”

It looked like you had momentum after you tied the game, were you shocked at the outcome?

“Not really, we made a nice goal there and we didn’t play the puck the way we were supposed to after that. They made a good goal on the tip-in there at the end.”

Jamie Langenbrunner:

Did you get a piece of the winning goal with your stick?

“That’s what they’re telling me, I’m not a 100% certain so, I’m sure they’ll look at it again.”

After two slow starts in a row, are you satisfied with the way the team started tonight?

“We were still a little bit flat. Both teams, for whatever reason, there was a lot of neutral zone play, and we didn’t have a whole lot of shots in the opening period. We need to get a little bit stronger starts, but we’re battling. It wasn’t a perfect game, but we were able to get the two points.”

A lot of fights tonight, what do you think when you see the kids like Corrente and Mark Fraser dropping the gloves out there?

“It’s great to see; both of those guys got some nastiness in their game. Matt’s shown a few times he’s not afraid to do that and it’s great to see. He’s playing like he wants to be here, he’s playing to do whatever he can to be here; it’s great to see.”

Jacques Lemaire:

Was Greene your best player tonight?

“Yes he was – no doubt. Why? All the good passes, all the retrieves that he made, the nice pass to his partner, skating with the puck away from people, holding onto the puck and making the right pass, hitting the right guy in the neutral zone.”

He played over 30 minutes, did you know that?

“Yeah.”
How’d he become so good?

“I don’t know, he’s got confidence, he’s playing with a lot of confidence. He’s on top of his game — he started a little slow, he had good moments and then all of a sudden he started to be our top defenseman.”

Rob Niedermayer won the face-off that led to the first goal how was his game?

“I liked what he did, I thought on the fourth line he did a great job, at times I used that line a little more frequently because they started to forecheck hard and they were going even better than (Dean) McAmmond’s line. So I played them a little more.”

Did they get sloppy with three penalties in the third or did your team draw them?

“Oh, I think we drew at least one that I was sure of, but the other ones, I didn’t see.”

What do you do with Jay Pandolfo coming back?

“I put him on the wing (smiles). And take another guy out.”

Who goes bye-bye?

“We’ll see. I have to see all the brains that work with me.”

Zharkov is a very excited kid; does he play with that excitement?

“Yeah I like what he does, he’s really strong and a good skater; good with the puck. He’ll be a player; he’ll be a player, in a matter of time.”

Is Colin White okay?

“We’ll see tomorrow.”

Did you see the play that he got hurt on?

“No.”

How about Brian Rolston, tying the game with your first goal?

“Rollie, well that’s Rollie. He’s got a good shot; he gets the puck at the right time. He just stepped into it; I’ve seen him score quite a few goals that way.”