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Returns of Sykora, Tallinder pay dividends

Friday, 06.8.2012 / 10:37 AM ET / News
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Returns of Sykora, Tallinder pay dividends

NEWARK -- Not many NHL teams can add 166 games worth of postseason experience overnight. But with his team down 3-0 to the Los Angeles Kings heading into Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final in Los Angeles and in need of a spark, Devils coach Peter DeBoer saw an opportunity to do just that.

DeBoer added a mega-dose of playoff experience for Game 4 by dressing defenseman Henrik Tallinder, who returned to the lineup after being out since Jan. 17 with blood clots in his leg, as well as forward Petr Sykora, who had been a healthy scratch since Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Neither player had a point in Game 4, but both played well in the Devils' season-saving 3-1 win.

"They gave us a real shot of energy," said DeBoer, who showed concern for Tallinder because the blood clot forced the defenseman to remain mobile during the team's cross-country flight on Thursday. "Whenever you're out for an extended period, you worry about how they're going to get their timing. They had no hesitation when you talked to them about going back in, and that’s how they played.”

There aren't many NHL players with more postseason experience than Sykora, who's appearing in his sixth Stanley Cup Final with three teams -- he earned rings with the Devils in 2000 and with Pittsburgh in 2009. DeBoer put Sykora with Dainius Zubrus and longtime friend and teammate Patrik Elias, adding some life to a line that hadn't shown much in the series. The trio opened the scoring in the third period in Game 4 on a goal by Elias, giving New Jersey its first lead of the Final. Elias' backhander past Jonathan Quick was his first goal in two weeks and just his third goal since Game 3 of the Devils' opening-round series against Florida.

"He's obviously a very experienced player," Zubrus said of Sykora. "Me, him and Patrik played for pretty much most of the season. He knows where to be and how to support. In that way, I think we read off each other, whether it's forecheck or backcheck. I thought he played really goods. He seemed like he never missed a beat."

Playing his first playoff game in more than two years, Tallinder found himself on both the penalty kill and power play during his 19:21 in ice time. It was a strong return for a blueliner who played in back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals with Buffalo in 2006 and 2007. In the first of those runs with the Sabres, Tallinder notched a goal and an assist in a Game 5 win that sent his team to the Conference Final. The following year, he logged an impressive 30:37 of ice time in a Game 5 overtime loss that sent Ottawa to its first Cup Final.

The decision to dress Tallinder and Sykora was the latest in a series of postseason moves by DeBoer and his staff that have generated positive results.

"With how much homework that they do, whatever they seem to change, we see the results right away," captain Zach Parise said of the coaching staff. "We believe in what they're saying and the way they want us to play. Throughout the whole playoffs, we've played a couple of games a certain way and then we find a different thing to do and find out that it works."

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

SCHEDULE

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AWAY
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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Henrique 75 16 27 -6 43
M. Cammalleri 68 27 15 2 42
P. Elias 69 13 21 -20 34
S. Gomez 58 7 27 -10 34
S. Bernier 67 16 16 2 32
T. Zajac 74 11 14 -3 25
A. Larsson 64 3 21 2 24
A. Greene 82 3 19 1 22
E. Gelinas 61 6 13 -2 19
M. Ryder 47 6 13 -1 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 26 31 9 .925 2.26
K. Kinkaid 6 5 4 .915 2.59