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Game 72: Devils Powerplay Erupts To Sink Columbus, 6-3

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Coming into tonight’s matchup against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Devils were 0-for-17 on the powerplay in their last six games.

The streak troubled the team so much they dedicated significant practice time throughout the week to perfect the attack.

The practice paid off, and the Devils scored three powerplay goals en-route to a win, 6-3, over the Blue Jackets Tuesday at the Prudential Center.

Zach Parise’s powerplay goal at 13:01 of the first period gave the Devils a 1-0 lead. With Rick Nash in the box for roughing, the Devils caused a turnover in the Blue Jackets zone. Patrik Elias checked defenseman Kris Russell along the side boards, and the puck slid away from both players. Jamie Langenbrunner took the puck in the right circle and fired a shot to the middle of goalie Steve Mason’s pads, creating a rebound. Parise crashed the net and put the rebound home for his 34th goal of the season.

Paul Martin made it two powerplay goals at 1:14 of the second period. With Kristian Huselius in the box for hooking, Ilya Kovalchuk passed the puck to Elias at the side boards. Elias skated to the top of the left circle and fired a wrist shot through Langenbrunner’s screen. The rebound caromed out to Martin, who pinched down to the right circle. The Devils’ defenseman fired the puck into the open net for his second goal of the season.

Down 2-0, Columbus responded to cut the lead in half. After carrying the puck into the Devil’s zone, Huselius left a drop pass for Antoine Vermette. The center fired a shot from the blue line that beat Brodeur over the glove for his 23rd goal of the season.

The Devils responded, scoring three straight goals in 6:35 to blow open the game.

Ilya Kovalchuk tallied the third Devils’ powerplay goal at 12:32 of the second period. Mike Mottau started the play at the blue line by keeping the puck in the zone. He sent the puck to Parise in the left circle, who sent a cross-ice pass to Kovalchuk. Kovalchuk fired a shot to the short-side for his 37th goal of the season.

Travis Zajac’s goal three minutes later put the Devils ahead, 4-1. Martin passed the puck to Kovalchuk, who let go a shot from the slot. The puck hit Zajac in the back and bounced into the open net for his 22nd goal of the season.

Zajac wasn’t done, tallying his second goal of the period at 19:07 to extend the Devils lead, 5-1. Once again, it was Zajac deflecting a puck past Mason for a goal. Mottau fired a shot from the point that deflected off the back of Zajac’s knee and into the net for his 23rd goal of the season.

The Devils finished the game 3-for-6 with the man advantage. They last scored three powerplay goals November 11, 2009 against Ottawa.

With the win, the Devils snapped a two-game winless streak. New Jersey overtook Pittsburgh for the Atlantic Division lead, and they now hold the second spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Devils will finish their three-game homestand Wednesday night against the New York Rangers.

Game Notes:

Devils goalie Martin Brodeur won for the 40th time this season, marking the eighth time the Devils goalie reached that mark…Kovalchuk finished with four points (1 G, 3 A), by far his most productive night as a Devil…Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond once again dropped the gloves, fighting Jared Boll in the second period. This fight didn’t last 2:30 minutes like his Sunday bought, and there wasn’t a clear-cut winner.

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