Kovalchuk winner seals win over Calgary
|Tedenby and Hedberg celebrate Devils' second straight win.
saved his only shot of the game for when it mattered most.
Kovalchuk scored the lone goal in the shootout and Johan Hedberg
made 25 saves in the Devils’ 2-1 win over the visiting Calgary Flames on Wednesday.
New Jersey (7-13-2) recorded back-to-back victories for the first time this season and secured their third straight triumph on home ice.
They also spoiled the return of former coach Brent Sutter, who made his first trip to the Garden State since joining the Flames in 2009.
“It’s nice,” Kovalchuk said. “Right now, every game is really important for us and we have to win as many games as we can.”
Kovalchuk skated in on Henrik Karlsson and ripped a hard wrister past the Flames’ goaltender in the first round of the shootout.
At the other end, Hedberg slid out to break up Niklas Hagman’s opening attempt, then used his right pad to slam the door on Brendan Morrison’s bid to tie it in the third round. The second shooters, Mattias Tedenby
and Alex Tanguay, both lost control on their attempts.
Right now, every game is really important for us and we have to win as many games as we can. - Ilya Kovalchuk
Kovalchuk’s winner was redemption for his shootout miscue versus Buffalo on Nov. 10. The puck bounced away from him as he looked to keep the Devils alive, and he never got off a shot.
But he never even gave that a thought before scoring on Karlsson.
“Not really,” Kovalchuk said. “I can do a little better than last time. It doesn’t really matter. We won, and that’s what it’s all about.”
John MacLean’s squad will head to Long Island on Friday with a chance for their first three-game winning streak since last December.
“It’s big,” MacLean said. “It wasn’t the prettiest game, but we found a way to win. That’s a big thing. Coming after the big game against Washington, then you come out tonight and get two big points, that’s a positive for us.”
Elias would have been the Devils' third shooter had Morrison scored. MacLean didn't hesitate to use Kovalchuk.
"Not at all," said the coach. "We were prepared and we talked about the order we would go with. It worked out well and he made a tremendous shot."
Hedberg’s play has the Devils on a roll. He blanked the Flames through the first 40 minutes, including a left pad stop on Olli Jokinen at the side of the net in the dying seconds of the middle period.
“It’s very important for us,” Hedberg said. “We’ve got some ground to make up. We need to put a streak together to try and get ourselves back. The last three games we’ve been playing well. It started in St. Louis, carried over to the Washington game, and I think we played really strong defensively here.”
With just one goal allowed in two games, Moose is getting into a groove.
“I feel better and better,” Hedberg said. “It always helps when I get to play some games in a row and get some flow in it. I’m never better than the guys in front of me. I think they’ve been playing great and really bearing down in the defensive zone.”
The Devils are believing in themselves again and shaking off their poor start.
"We have to build our confidence back, which was really shattered early in the year here," Hedberg said. "The way we're feeling about the way we're playing is the most important thing. We're getting rewarded here two games in a row. Hopefully we can keep this work ethic and this way of playing up, and we're going to be in good shape."
’s first-period goal gave the Devils a 1-0 lead they carried into the third. Rene Bourque tied it 1:18 into the final frame, breaking up Hedberg’s bid for his second straight shutout.
Bourque’s redirection of a Mark Giordano point shot ended Hedberg’s shutout streak at 108:01. Hedberg blanked Washington, 5-0, on Monday.
The Devils squandered a power play in overtime, but outshot the Flames, 6-3, in the extra session. After the man advantage had expired, Patrik Elias
was robbed on the doorstep by Karlsson. Jason Arnott
fed in front for Elias, who was thwarted by Karlsson’s right pad with 1:32 to go in OT.
“Nice pass by him, great pass,” said Elias. “I tried to get a quick shot, goalie made a pretty good save. I didn’t place it by the post, it’s tough when it happens that quick. I wish I would have that one back again.”
It was important to finally win two in a row.
“We’ll go into Long Island feeling better about ourselves,” Elias said. “The biggest difference is when we push the pace and we control the game and we control the puck.”
Clarkson opened the scoring with his fourth of the season. Tedenby jumped on a Matt Corrente rebound, and put the puck off Clarkson’s shin for his fourth of the season. With the assist, Tedenby continued his point surge. He has collected six points (3g-3a) in his first seven NHL games.
Hedberg carried a bid for his second straight shutout into the third. The Devils' last recorded consecutive shutouts last April, when Martin Brodeur
blanked Carolina (4/3) and Atlanta (4/6). The last Devil other than Brodeur to post shutouts in consecutive starts was Scott Clemmensen, who whitewashed the Rangers (2/9/09) and Bruins (2/13/09). … New Jersey last had a winning streak longer than two games when they rolled off five in a row from Dec. 12-21.
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