Welcome back Devils Fans! Im on a "back-to-back" blog swing once again this evening as well as tomorrow night. Tonight on Second Look, I will be reviewing the Devils' recent 3 game win streak which began on March 27th in a shootout victory over the Blackhawks at home in Newark followed up to a scoring frenzy in another home game against the Bolts wrapped up by a playoff berth-clinching victory over the Canes down south in Raleigh the day after an open practice/autograph session in Newark.
The game against the Rangers on Tuesday one was a BIG responding game to their previous loss against the Rags back on February 27th. New Jersey showed both New York and the league that they are not a team to be messed with. If you can beat the 1st ranked team, weather its in the East or the West, you've presented enough evidence that you're a contender; if, in New Jersey's case, you can manage to win 3 of 5, I feel you've got what it takes to be a real powerhouse and a force to be reckoned with come the post season. With one more game remaining between these two teams this season (Monday, March 19th in MSG) and this being a potential first round matchup (if NJ can climb to 5th & NYR drops to 4th thanks to the help of the streaking Pens, winners of 9 straight) which would be a blood bath! New York's "King Henrik" would get lit up a total of 4 times by Devils' Ilya Kovalchuk, David Clarkson, Ryan Carter and an empty netter by Patrik Elias would stave off the Rangers and their, rather weak showcasing of hockey in last Tuesday's game. Final score at The Rock, New Jersey 4-1 New York Rangers.
This game against the 6th place Hawks was a tight one. An early power play goal scored by Petr Sykora at the end of the 1st period appeared to be a goal that would stand for the entirety of the game especially based on the spectacular play in the net by our very own Martin Brodeur. Marty looked and ultimately played FLAWLESS all game long. Save after save made by the 39 year old goalie would be the difference up until the 3rd period when Chicago D-Man Brent Seabrook squeezed a puck from the point through Marty's right arm, as it found its way into the twine. The Blackhawks tied the game with under 12 minutes left in the period. It seemed so fitting that this contest would be decided in extra time as these two teams rushed up and down the ice before the 5 minute sudden death OT period would expire. New Jersey would enter the shoot out. Patrik Elias would record the first mark in the shoot out only to be answered by Chicago's Patrick Sharp in the 3rd round. After saves were made on efforts by David Clarkson on Marian Hossa, it'd come down to Travis Zajac to put New Jersey in the drivers seat. A quick move in the shoot out would see Zajac score! With the puck on Andrew Shaw's tape, Marty Brodeur would decide the fate of the Devils; SAVE MADE! New Jersey wins pulls out the win over the Blackhawks, 2-1 in a shoot out.
Despite the hat trick allowed by Marty in this one, the Devils prevailed victorious. After going down 1-0 in the closing minute of play in the 1st period on a tip-in goal scored by Ryan Malone, it'd be Dainius Zubrus scoring New Jersey's league-leading 15th short handed goal of the season on a pass from Patrik Elias early on in the second to knot it up, one goal a piece. No sooner than the tying goal, it'd be Malone again putting the Bolts up by one once again. After the 2nd goal by Malone, New Jersey answered again, this time, it'd be Jacob Josefson scoring even strength to tie the game at two. YET AGAIN, Tampa Bay would pull ahead, YET AGAIN, it would be Lightning forward Ryan Malone, scoring his 3rd of the game to put Tampa up 3-2 over the Devils mid way through the period. Then, when it seemed nearly like New Jersey would pack their bags and head down south to face Carolina, none other then Cap'n Clutch, Ilya Kovalchuk, would rise to the occassion to tie the game and lead the scoring parade for the Devils. Following Ilya's 33rd of the year, goals would be scored by Marek Zidlicky on the powerplay in the 2nd period, Alexi Ponikarovsky and then David Clarkson both in the 3rd period. New Jersey rallied back from a one goal defecit to put up 4 unanswered goals, which, in time, would be answered by Tampa's Trevor Smith. The goal would be scored a bit too late. The Devils extended their streak to 2 via the help of 6 goals Thursday evening.
One player shined bright in this game, in my opinion, was Martin Brodeur. Brodeur stopped all 22 shots faced from the Hurricanes recording his 119th career shutout, his 3rd of the season carrying New Jersey on his back, clinching the teams 14th playoff berth in 15 seasons. Along with Brodeur's shut out, the Devils offense continued to click following a 6 goal outing three nights earlier, scoring 5 times on 31 shots. Brian Boucher recorded 26 saves on the evening in a losing effort, despite making a couple of highlight reel, goal preventing saves. David Clarkson netted his 30th goal of the season, a career mark for Clarky, followed up by four more goals by Ilya Kovalchuk, Ryan Carter, Petr Sykora, and Zach Parise. Kovy finished the evening with 3pts, a 2pt outing by Elias as well as Sykky would lead the Devils to victory over the Hurricanes. All four lines continued to produce in back-to-back games, which, at this point in the season, is HUGE.
New Jersey will conclude the season Saturday afternoon in a game against the Ottawa Senators after returning home from the Motor City when the Devils visit Joe Louis Arena and faceoff against the Detroit Red Wings. The Devils will continue play tomorrow evening at home against the New York Islanders as they continue to increase their lead over the 7th place Senators. To hear the latest Devils information, be sure to follow us on twitter at @RWTDblog@DEVIN88MATTERA @RealScottRobb and our newest writer @Rvaidya33 and you can like us on our facebook page! From all of us here at Running With The Devils, I'm Devin Mattera, you stay classy Devils Fans.