The New Jersey Devils got a much-needed win on Sunday night, just 24 hours after their worst loss of the season. That loss came to the Carolina Hurricanes by a score of 6-3. Johan Hedberg was pulled for the second time in three starts after the second period and gave way to rookie goaltender Jeff Frazee.
However, Hedberg and the Devils rebounded nicely on Sunday, defeating the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 in a shootout. Ryan Carter and Stephen Gionta netted Jersey's goals and Patrik Elias' put the icing on the cake in the shootout.
The Devils have now won two of their last three games; Elias has sealed the deal in the shootout on both occasions. Elias' late game heroics have become a theme as of late–he netted the game tying goal against Buffalo just a few nights ago with a little over a minute remaining in regulation.
Tonight's game was a good sign for the Devils Army. Coach Peter DeBoer said after the game, "Tonight I thought we put it all together for the first time in a while." This could not be more accurate.
The Devils jumped out to an early 2-0 lead as a result of some hard work by the former fourth (now third) line. Ryan Carter got things started 8:47 into the opening frame. His goal came off a net-mouth scramble and was assisted by Travis Zajac and Anton Volchenkov. For the first time since February 18, New Jersey had netted the first goal of the game. Stephen Gionta added to the lead less than two minutes later with his third tally of the season. Ilya Kovalchuk and Adam Larsson added assists.
One thing is for certain–Johan Hedberg's play tonight will instill a big boost of confidence for not only him, but for his teammates, as well. Despite what the scoreboard says, Hedberg really should have had a shut-out tonight. Andy Greene deflected a shot on goal past Hedberg in a play that should have been left alone. Mark Stuart fluttered one towards the net and it would have been an easy stop for Moose if Greene had not touched it.
Evander Kane tied things up in the middle frame on an odd-man rush. Larsson got caught up in the offensive zone and was late getting back. Kane's wrister beat Hedberg up high and just caught the inside of the post. I'll be honest, not too many goalies in the National Hockey League were going to stop that shot.
What really impressed me tonight was the added physicality that the Devils brought to the table. I noticed Steve Bernier a lot tonight as a result of his hard checks and physical play. In order to continue on their winning ways, New Jersey will have to play physical. They are not an oversized team, so any advantage they can get is a good one.
Both teams were denied several scoring opportunities in the third period and overtime. Ilya Kovalchuk and David Clarkson failed to convert on their shootout chances; Blake Wheeler and Evander Kane produced the same results for Winnipeg. Patrik Elias slid one in past Ondrej Pavelec's five hole before Moose denied Andrew Ladd to send the Devils to victory.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images.
- The Devils have not played as well as they did tonight in a long time. Let's hope they keep it up.
- Jersey squares up against Philadelphia on Wednesday night in the first leg of a home-and-home series. As always, Devils fans, we need to ROCK the ROCK. I will be cheering from Section 123 in my brand-new Adam Henrique jersey, so stop by and say hello. I am usually in the Digital Zone after the first period. Belated birthday presents will be accepted at that time!
- With the win tonight, Jersey stayed in seventh place in the Eastern Conference. Over the next few games, the Devils should be able to make a push to move higher up if they continue to play like they did this evening.
- Still no word on when Martin Brodeur will return. As soon as I know, I will certainly pass it on to the followers here at Running With The Devils.
For all of your latest Devils news, analysis, and reaction, be sure to follow us (me and Joey, as well!) on twitter. You can "like" us on facebook, too! Until Wednesday night, Devils fans, sleep tight and Let's Go Devils!