Devils PP Too Much For Tampagame recaps February 8, 2013
If New Jersey needed a game to get its power play working efficiently under new assistant coach Matt Shaw, Thursday’s thorough 4-2 thumping of Tampa Bay certainly should give the team confidence heading into a home-and-home against Pittsburgh this weekend. An extended power play late in the third period on which the Devils scored twice erased any hope of a Lightning comeback, getting goals from the surprisingly productive Andy Greene and Patrik Elias.
Elias notched three points for the second-consecutive game, giving him 13 points in 10 contests this season while Greene’s two points give the blue liner six points in the last four games.
Special teams played a large role in the Devils’ victory as their dormant power play secured the victory, but it was their outstanding penalty kill that gave the Devils the lead late in the second period as Ilya Kovalchuk ended a seemingly interminable six-game scoring drought. MSG Network’s Deb Placey noted that Devils’ coach Peter DeBoer was defending the all-around game Kovalchuk had been giving the Devils the last week despite him not lighting the lamp and the Russian Star repaid the faith showed by his coach.
Buzzing around the point while the Lightning had a power play, Kovalchuk corralled a loose puck and led a 2-on-1 with Travis Zajac deep into the Tampa zone, firing a perfectly placed wrist shot past Anders Lindback to give the Devils a 2-1 lead they would not relinquish. Adam Henrique kicked off New Jersey’s scoring, potting his third goal in four games after cleaning up a rebound in front of Lindback earlier in the second.
Martin Brodeur was not too busy in securing his fifth win of the season, turning away all but two of the 18 shots he faced, allowing the second goal late in the third period on a laser of a one-timer off Matt Carle’s stick. New Jersey’s penalty kill continued its recent dominance, killing off all four of Tampa Bay’s power-play chances; they have not surrendered a power-play goal for four games, denying all 15 chances they’ve faced since allowing the winning goal one week ago against the Islanders. Tampa Bay’s best scoring chance came on a Steven Stamkos shot from the crease off a Brodeur rebound that somehow skittered past the open net.
-Stefan Matteau played his sixth NHL game in Thursday’s win, seeing most of his 10:07 with Travis Zajac and Ilya Kovalchuk. Matteau had one shot on goal and at least one decent chance on a play close to the Lightning goal. Matteau now has used a year of NHL eligibility on his contract and could be in line to see regular playing time either with the Devils or at Albany (AHL).
-Dainius Zubrus missed the game with an upper-body injury.
-Bobby Butler saw some power-play time for the Devils despite playing a modest 6:34 of ice time.
-Marek Zidlicky almost scored on a play in the first period where he drive wide to the goal as if he were a power-forward. The puck rolled behind Lindback but stayed out. Zidlicky then made up for his offensive chance by almost allowing a goal at the other end later in the game. Zidlicky almost does everything on the ice.
-Devils broadcaster Glenn “Chico” Resch is nothing if not entertaining and he coined a few gems during the MSG telecast of Thursday’s win.
When referring to Tampa Bay’s budding blue line star Victor Hedman, he noted that “Hedman is the Lightning’s Adam Larsson.” (The comparison isn’t completely bereft of a point, as both are Swedish. It might be a year or two before Larsson reaches Hedman’s talent level, which I’d be fine with).
In the third period, Resch and play-by-play announcer Steve Cangialosi were talking about Tampa Bay’s Vincent Lecavalier’s decision to use a new stick made by CCM in conjunction with golf club giant Taylor Made. Moments after Tampa Bay made it 4-2, Lecavalier was in alone on Brodeur and fired high, giving us this nugget: “Vinny’s stick was not Taylor Made for that chance.”
-Adam Larsson has appeared poised and more comfortable since being inserted into the lineup, however, he has been whistled for penalties on debatable calls the last two games.
-Jacob Josefson also saw time on the left wing of Travis Zajac and Ilya Kovalchuk.
-Zajac has one assist in the last eight games after starting the season with a goal in the first two contests.
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Follow Dan Pennucci on Twitter @dpennucciTags: andy greene, Ilya Kovalchuk, Patrik Elias