The Devils came into this short two-game homestand needing points. New Jersey, losers of their last three games, seemed to battle frustration and unlucky bounces during their terrible start. It wouldn’t get any easier tonight, as the Washington Capitals visited the Prudential Center. It seemed like yet another letdown in a season full of them. But by the end of the first period, the Devils showed they may have finally turned a corner. In a night where they honored Pat Burns, New Jersey destroyed the Capitals, 5-0, earning their second home win of the season.
Jason Arnott Powers The Offense
Coming into tonight’s game, Arnott led the team in goals. Not Ilya Kovalchuk , but Arnott. He’s been the best offensive option, and he displayed those skills tonight, helping put the Capitals away.
Arnott extended the Devils lead to 2-0 at 16:15 of the period. The center started the play at the blue line, grabbing a loose puck at the blue line. He skated down the side boards, drawing two defenders to him. Capitals goalie Braden Holtby came out of the net to challenge Arnott, but the center simply went behind the net and deposited the puck into the empty net on a wraparound attempt for his seventh goal of the season.
Arnott scored his second of the night in the second period, extending the Devils lead to 4-0. Andy Greene threw the puck toward the net, and Patrik Elias deflected the puck on net. Holtby made the initial save, but left the rebound in the low slot. Arnott swept the puck between a defender’s legs and into the net for his eighth goal of the season.
Mattias Tedenby – Penalty Shot Magic
Ever since his callup, Tedenby provided excitement and, importantly, offensive firepower. The rookie once again showed his scoring prowess, converting on the first penalty shot at The Rock since 2009.
Tedenby drew the penalty shot after beating Jon Erskine for a short breakaway. The Caps defender pulled Tedenby down, and the referee signaled for the penalty shot immediately. Tedenby moved in slowly on Holtby, who came out to challenge the right-winger. As Holtby retreated toward his net, Tedenby pulled the puck to the backhand and put the shot on net. The puck deflected off of Holtby’s left arm and into the net for his third goal of the season.
Devils coach John MacLean was pleased with the rookie’s performance tonight.
“He’s a young guy,” MacLean told Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. “He has great confidence with the puck. You’ve got to let his creativity come and he skates so well that he makes something happen each time he’s out there and you just have to hedge that with being responsible and he was tonight.”
The Moose Is On The Loose
Johan Hedberg wasn’t happy about being skipped over for Saturday’s start against St. Louis. He made that fact known during the pre-game skate, and came into tonight’s game with a chip on his shoulder. After his performance against the Capitals, we might get used to seeing Mike McKenna glued to the end of the bench.
The Devils needed Hedberg to be strong tonight, and the goalie stood up to the challenge. Hedberg stopped 30 shots tonight, blanking the Capitals for his 15th career shutout. They weren’t all cupcake saves either. Hedberg was in a zone, and it seemed like nothing could stop him.
His most impressive save came during the second period, with the Devils already ahead, 5-0.Alexander Semin carried the puck into the Devils zone, and made a beeline toward the slot. The left-winger fired a quick wrist shot on net, and Hedberg quickly flashed the glove and made the save.
“Heddy’s a veteran,” MacLean said to Gulitti. “He wasn’t happy that he wasn’t playing, but understood and he bounced back tremendously, which we expected him to do. It’s good for him because he works extremely hard.”
For the rest of the recap, continue reading after the jump!
The Second Line Steps Up
We already discussed Arnott and Tedenby at length, but the entire line needs to be recognized for its performance tonight. The line accounted for four of the five goals scored tonight, and brought pressure whenever they stepped on the ice. Since Tedenby joined the line, both Arnott and Elias look fresher and more creative. This line has grown to be the best offensive option for the Devils this season, and I can’t wait to see how they continue to grow during the season.
Dainius Zubrus scored a goal tonight, his second in three games.
Kovalchuk finished with zero points tonight. Sigh…
The Devils kept Alex Ovechkin off the board tonight. That’s a defensive accomplishment in itself.
Tonight was the first time the Devils led by more than two goals at home. It’s also the first time the Devils reached the five-goal plateau without the help of empty-net goals.
The Devils finish their short two-game homestand Wednesday night with a game against the Calgary Flames at 7:30 p.m.