The New Jersey Devils won their fifth straight contest on Thursday evening by defeating the Detroit Red Wings by a score of 2-1. Alexei Ponikarovsky and Petr Sykora scored for New Jersey, who defeated Detroit on the road for the first time since 1996. Martin Brodeur collected his fourteenth thirty-win season, an NHL record. The Red Wings strong offense was no match for a solid Devils’ defense tonight as New Jersey pulled off the victory.
Both teams skated with high amounts of energy in the first twenty minutes. The Devils were strong on the forecheck, as were the Red Wings. Perhaps the best scoring chance of the evening for Detroit came about halfway through the opening period. Red Wings’ forward Pavel Datsyuk danced around defenders and in front of Martin Brodeur. Datsyuk ripped a wrist shot that rang just off the inside of the pipe; everyone in the building, including Datsyuk, thought the puck had gone in the net. The play went under review during the next commercial break; however, it was evident that Datsyuk’s shot rang off the post and was ruled “no goal.” Alexei Ponikarovsky scored his fourteenth goal of the season 10:13 into the first period to put the Devils up by one. David Clarkson and Peter Harrold were credited with the assists on Ponikarovsky’s goal. Harrold made a magnificent play to sidestep two defenders and put the puck on net. Ponikarovsky attacked the rebound and netted the goal. At the end of the first period of play, the Devils lead by a score of 1-0 and in the shots on goal category, 11-6.
The second period was a lackluster twenty minutes for New Jersey. The Devils continued to play strong defense. However, Tomas Holmstrom scored his eleventh goal of the year on the lone Detroit power play of the evening. Holmstrom’s goal came 6:13 into the middle period. Martin Brodeur remained strong in net and denied the Red Wings on several other scoring chances. At the end of the middle period, both teams were locked in a 1-1 tie.
Looking to join the “100 Point Club” in the Eastern Conference, the Devils came out ready to play in the final period of regulation. A strong Devils’ defense paired with an even stronger forecheck produced several scoring opportunities in the third. Petr Sykora scored his twentieth goal of the season 11:20 into the third period to put the Devils back up on top. Martin Brodeur and the defense did the rest of the work and held off the Red Wings attempts to tie the game. As the final horn sounded, the Devils picked up points 99 and 100 on the season with a dominating 2-1 victory over Detroit.
Key Notes: Martin Brodeur picked up his thirtieth win of the year and his fourteenth season with at least thirty victories … Petr Sykora joined the long list of Devils who have scored at least twenty goals this season … Peter Harrold picked up his first point in a Devils uniform tonight.
Next Game: The Devils will wrap up the regular season on Saturday, April 7, 2012 against the Ottawa Senators (3 PM EST) at the Prudential Center.
Playoff Picture: The Devils have clinched the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference standings and will play the southeast division winner in the Conference Quaterfinals. The Florida Panthers and Washington Capitals are currently in a race for the southeast division title and each have one game to play.
Photo of the Night:
Above: New Jersey Devils forward Alexei Ponikarovsky (12), of Ukraine, and forward David Clarkson (23) celebrate with teammates on the bench after a goal by Ponikarovsky during the first period of an NHL hockey game with the Detroit Red Wings, Thursday, April 5, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)