The New Jersey Devils look to conclude their 6 game homestand with another victory, looking to win back-to-back as they would faceoff at the Rock against the Canadiens. Carey Price vs. Martin Brodeur, Devils-Habs, what a game we have here...
A first period that went from bad to worse... A mere 4 minutes in, Montreal centerman Dave Desharnais broke the silence, ealry, from the side of the cage. Five minutes later, the Habs put New Jersey in a deeper hole than they were to start as Andrei Kostitsyn capped a second goal for Montreal. The goal was Kostitsyn's 12th of the year as the assists were awarded to Weber and Leblanc. Soon after, Zach Parise would gain his 42nd point on the year as he beat Carey Price on the low right side to cut the Canadiens lead in half. Along with Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk too was credited with his 42nd point, as Kovy was credited with the secondary assist, along with Dainius Zubrus. Throughout the period, play began to gain an increased amount of physical play, a handful of penalties, two for New Jersey, one for Montreal. Eric Cole of the Canadiens hit the sin bin first as he was whistled for roughing at the 12:49 mark, along with Ryan Carter of the Devils also got called for roughing, a little later on though, almost 3 minutes later. Both penalties would be killed off. At the end of the period, a dangerous hit by Patrik Elias along the bench would arouse a series of penalties to be issued throughout the opening minutes of the second period. Elias' penalty was a boarding call at 18:54 of the first. The Devils were unreasonably out shout by the Habs 11-5. Teams went scoreless on the powerplay opportunities in the first as well. New Jersey would begin the period short handed.
The second period would begin with one penalty ending, as another one began. The Elias boarding call was killed off by the #2 ranked PK unit in the National Hockey League (second to Montreal). No sooner does Elias escape the box, Montreal rookie Raphael Diaz takes a seat on a two minute minor penalty for interferance. Montreal would capitalize big time on the PK. Montreal Canadien Mathieu Darche would score shorthanded, his 3rd goal of the season recieving the pass from Tomas Plekanec. The Devils were nearly down & out. 3-1 the score early on in the second period, to a Montreal team that was clicking on passes, getting shot after shot off, killing penalties, recording scoring chances and more importantly, scoring more goals. That would all be true until the Devils' surprise player of the season, David Clarkson scored on the powerplay. David Clarkson, yet again, coming up with a BIG goal. His 18th of the year, a career high for Clarky was a solid one at that. A powerplay goal scored by a team that hasnt been registering on the man advantage in games of late. In the second period, the Devils would have 3 total powerplay opportunities in which they would record one tally, bringing them to within one goal of the 14th placed Canadiens hockey club. Shots on goal were in favor of the Habs, 10-9.
In the third period, the ice would appear to be tilted, in favor of the home town team. 6 and a half minutes into the 3rd period, Dainius Zubrus would set up a beautifully executed play in which he set a pick for Clarkson to pass it back to the top of the faceoff circle for Ponikarovsky to fire a shot which was tipped in by Zubrus. The Devils would gain momentum throughout the period as they seemed to be on a roll in which could not be stopped. To summarize briefly, New Jersey would go on to score a total of 3 third period goals, a total of 4 unanswered, one of which was an empty netter. The other goals were recorded by Zach Parise, his 18th of the year on a weird bouncing puck off a Montreal defender which was directed to the wide open captain who burried one past Carey Price, who nearly made the glove save. Parise's goal was assisted by Kovalchuk, his 3rd of the game, and Patrik Elias. With time winding down and the Habs down by one, they went into desperation mode, Canadiens head coach Randy Cunneyworth hailed Price's name to the bench for the extra attacker, which would be a mere insult as David Clarkson, again, scored for the Devils on the empty net. The goal was Clarkson's 19th of the year. The Devils would hold off Montreal who came out of the gate full forces scoring 3 goals on their first 21 shots, out scoring the Habs 5-3, despite being held to single digit shots recorded in each period (5 shots, 1st period/ 9 shots, 2nd period/ 8 shots, 3rd period).
FINAL 3 - 5
All in all, a handful of Devils showed their stuff tonight as forwards David Clarkson and captain Zach Parise both scored two goals on the night, Dainius Zubrus with one of his own. Ilya Kovalchuk was the big helper in the game, getting in on 3 scoring plays as he finished off the evening with 3pts, 3 assists, no goals despite having 5 shots and wrapping up the night with a +/- rating of 0. Along with Kovy, Clarkson and Zubrus too had three points; Clarkson 2 goals and 1 assist, Zubrus 1 goal and 2 assists. One player who I believe went relativley unrecognizez, despite getting the 3rd Star of the Game award, was Marty Brodeur. While giving up 2 goals on his first 11 shots faced, and 3 in the game, he showed the resiliency to continue to make big save after save in aid of the team's comeback. Brodeur would stop 27 of 30 shots.
The Devils have in fact begun to go streaking, winning their second game in a row, their first in an important divisional game versus the Rangers which many believe may in fact be the turning point for the Devils' season. New Jersey has come back to tie the game 4 times in their last two games, scoring at least 3 goals in each contest.
New Jersey will head out and onto the road Saturday afternoon against the Flyers. Philadelphia is currently 6-2-2 in their last 10 winning tonight against the red-hot Nashville Predators, 4-1. Philly is now 7 points ahead of New Jersey in the Eastern Conference playoff scheme, reziding in the 4th seed, trailing league leading New York (Rangers) by 3 points, who remaind idle tonight after a 1-0 S.O. victory in upstate New York against the Sabres. In what'll be the 4th matchup between these two teams, the Flyers have won 2 out of 3 games against New Jersey as they have managed a head-to-head record of 2-0-1 in three meetings this year.