This game right here… one word ladies and gentlemen. STATEMENT. The Devils would strike early. The offense was awake, the defense was smart, and our goalie, wow. Martin Brodeur was spot on, shutting down 25 of 26 shot faced, killing off 2 Rangers power play opportunities, and holding his own against Henrik Lundqvist at the other end of the ice. New Jersey nearly dominated every statistic on the evening. 29-26 in shots, 18-12 in hits, 30-29 in faceoffs, that ALONE is a HUGE number in its self. Both teams would go scoreless on the man advantage but it was the resilliency of all 4 lines of the Devils tonight that led to their rather impressive victory over the Blueshirts.
*FUN FACT* New Jersey is the only NHL team to beat the Rangers 3 times or more this season.
Kovalchuk. I start off here with a few words for Mr. Kovalchuk and his rebound game tonight versus the Rangers. In his 61st game of the year, Kovy added a goal and an assist for 2 points increasing his point total on the year to 64, averaging just over a point/game, ranking 9th in the league in that category. The goal by Ilya was blasted early, 49 seconds in, if thats not early enough for ya’! His 26th of the season would be off of a transition in the neutral zone getting assisted by Parise and Greene. No more scoring would be done by either team in the opening 20; all that’d occur in the time following the goal would be a total of 24 total penalty minutes on 2 fighting majors (Carter v. Dubinsky & Janssen v. Scott), as well as a cross checking call and a hi-stick. Both teams would go 0-1 in the first period. Brodeur, like I had written before, played spectacular! He shut down nearly everything fired his way, and not just the easy ones. Marty managed to knife shots out of mid air with his mit, he used his stick to its full ability poke checking pucks out of his radius. Brodeur punched aside shots with his waffle and kicked pucks to the side boards with the pads, time after time after time. Remarkable! Even with the loss on Sunday to the Islanders, in my personal opinion, I believe Marty was the better goaltender in the matinee against the Isles. Things have clicked in New Jersey, we’re just waiting for the right time to strike!
All that smooth play from New Jersey would continue forward into the second although losing a powerplay opportunity which overlapped from the closing minutes of the 1st. Like they say, all good things must come to an end. A weird bounce off of the paddle of Marty’s stick from Rangers rookie Carl Hagelin, would find its way to the front of the net and onto the tape of Derek Stepan, who’d put one up over the shoulder of Martin Brodeur, knotting the game up, 1 goal a piece. The goal by Stepan would be assisted by Hagelin and Dan Girardi at 6:56; it’d be Derek’s 15th of the year. Besides the lone Ranger goal, the rest of the team… useless? They were practically no shows tonight, with, AS ALWAYS, “The King”, Henrik Lundqvist. Marty’s 46th career victory over the Rangers would hand Hank his 13th loss of the year, New York their 16th regulation “L” of the season, and walking into the locker room’s at the end of 60 minutes with New Jersey’s 37th victory thus far, leaving them with 79pts.
The third period would see a game get ripped wde open; 3 goals scored by 3 different Devils, one of whom plays on the 4th line. Yes, that was read correctly, the 4th line. Scoring in the third would be initiated by a beautiful drop pass entering the offensive zone from Clarkson, back to Sykora for the drive which redirected off of the inside of Clarky’s leg, for his 26th of the year, now more than doubling his previous career high, which was 17 in the 08-09 campaign. Teammates Petr Sykora (playing in his 1001st career game) and Patrik Elias would also be credited with points, as helpers of the Clarkson re-direct. Shortly following the Clarkson goal at 2:27 of the third, 4th line centerman Ryan Carter would crank a snap shot from the faceoff circle on the move, burrying it behind Lundqvist, pushing New Jersey to a 3-1 lead mid way into the closing act, of this 6 part mini series we call each season “Devils-Rangers Hockey”. Carter’s goal was only his third tally of the season. The assists go to Jacob Josefson, his 4th assist, and Kovalchuk, increasing his point total, wrapping up the night with a total of 64. (The helper from Kovalchuk was his 38th of the season). The goals were nearly 2 minutes apart from one another, both equally as important with the simple fact that they were “finisher goals”; the one’s that ultimately put the nail in the coffin. One more would be tacked on near the end of the period, the TRUE nail in the coffin. An empty net goal with 1:53 left in play scored by alternate captain Patrik Elias from outside the blue line would presumably seal the deal and capture the “W” from New York as New Jersey would increase the score, 4-1 with only seconds remaining.
4-1 the final score as the New Jersey Devils upstage Broadway’s finest at the Prudential Center on Tuesday evening. New Jersey currently resides alone in the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference playoff picture with 79 points, 2 points behind Philadelphia who beat Detroit at home tonight 3-2. After looking up, we look down, as the Devils managed to maintain a 1pt cushion over Ottawa, who rolled over Tampa Bay, in a game with an NFL scoreboard finale, final score, 7-3 Sens. Winnipeg holds the 8th seed with 72pts. New Jersey resumes play Thursday evening against the Islanders at home before heading back to Long Island for a game against the Islanders, capping off a 3 game week with the team that stole the 1st one at home. For all of us here at Running With The Devils, I’m Devin Mattera. You stay classy Devils Fans!