Game 26: Devils Win, Avoid Season Sweep By Thrashersgame recaps March 11, 2013
Forget the fact that the Devils scored more than two goals just twice in their last nine games. Forget the fact they had two wins in their last 10 entering Sunday’s contest against the current mutation of the Atlanta Thrasers, a team they had lost to twice in the last week. Forget the fact that the Devils had given up the first goal in 11 straight games. Forget the fact that Johan Hedberg, the team’s starting goalie the last eight games was blitzed for five goals on 18 shots the night before in Carolina. Forgetting all those minor details, the Devils pulled together a win on Sunday, topping Winnipeg 3-2 in a shootout thanks to a sneaky backhanded finish from Patrik Elias and Johan Hedberg stoning the Jets on their three attempts.
Hedberg needed to be sharp in overtime, denying Winnipeg on several close range chances but no save in the extra frame was more impressive than the glove save he made on Jets’ dynamo Evander Kane, tormentor of New Jersey. Kane let fly a wrist shot from the circle through Bryce Salvador that ricocheted off the Devils’ captain’s skate and bounced up, ticketed toward the twine where Moose snagged it in his glove.
Now, being the Devils, no victory can come easy and Sunday’s effort was largely similar to the Devils’ previous 10 games where they carried the play and had the better of the scoring chances, but were thwarted either by Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec or unfortunate bounces as they aimed to ice the game. Despite grabbing a 2-0 lead in the first period, the Devils could not sneak another puck past Winnipeg (let that sink in. Winnipeg. Pavelec.) The opening goal from Ryan Carter was the first time in 11 contests the Devils had scored the first goal, getting a second tally from Stephen Gionta on a quasi-breakaway at 10:!2, slotting the puck between Pavelec’s pads.
The Devils played with energy following their newfound lead only to see a bad bounce victimize them late in the first period, as Mark Stuart’s point shot was deflected past Hedberg with an expert touch by Andy Greene, inadvertently of course. After generating quite a few scoring chances in the second period, the Devils again saw the luck turn in Winnipeg’s favor.
Following a broken play in the Jets’ offensive zone, Kane snuck behind Adam Larsson where he corralled a clearing pass from team captain Andrew Ladd allowing him to go in seemingly alone on Hedberg while Greene, doing what he’s supposed to do, played the pass on the 2-on-1 before Kane fired a laser over Hedberg’s glove side, tying the game.
The Devils are 2-1 in their last three games, winning both games via a shootout.
-There were two penalties in the game, one on the Jets’ Grant Clitsome in the first period and a tripping call on Ilya Kovalchuk in the third period.
-David Clarkson has gone 12 games without a goal.
-Travis Zajac posted an assist in the game, playing a large number of minutes alongside Clarkson and Ryan Carter.
-Devils’ analyst Glenn “Chico” Resch appeared baffled that Kane’s tying goal went into the net, question the replays as the puck bounced off the back of the net quickly. Oddly, there were no questions on the ice regarding the veracity of Kane’s goal.
-Kane led all skaters with 10 shots on goal, putting up his second goal against the Devils in three games this season. Thankfully, the Devils won’t have to see him barring a playoff matchup with Winnipeg.
-In a game where the Devils’ lone goals came from fourth-line forwards Carter and Gionta, two of the team’s four assists came from Anton Volchenkov and Adam Larsson.
-Volchenkov left the game briefly in the third period after taking a Dustin Byfuglien shot off his back during a penalty kill.
-Henrik Tallinder missed his second-straight game due to a minor injury while Salvador returned to the lineup following a one-game absence.
-Stefan Matteau was replaced by Krys Barch in the game, playing a highly valuable and effective 9:08.
-The Devils have a home-and-home series with Atlantic Divison rival Philadelphia on Wednesday and Friday before hosting Eastern Conference-leading Montreal on Sunday.
-New Jersey stayed one point ahead of the Rangers for the Eastern Conference’s seventh spot at 29 points. The Rangers topped Washington 4-1 earlier on Sunday while Philadelphia crept into the ninth spot at 26 points following a 3-2 win over Buffalo. In other Atlantic Division action, Pittsburgh stomped the Islanders 6-1 to maintain their division lead.
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Follow Dan Pennucci on Twitter @dpennucci.Tags: Evander Kane, Johan Hedberg, Patrik Elias, Ryan Carter, Stephen Gionta, winnipeg jets