Parise, Kovalchuk lead Devils to first win
|Parise celebrates his first goal. (Getty/NHL Images)
Goals from the Devils’ two big guns lifted them to their first victory of 2011-12.
scored twice and Ilya Kovalchuk
added a goal and two assists to fuel New Jersey's 4-2 win over visiting Carolina on Monday afternoon.
Peter DeBoer picked up his first triumph as Devils coach.
"It’s exciting," DeBoer said. "It’s nice, I’m glad. You put in a lot of work over the summer in meetings and through training camp. It’s nice to win. It’s also nice to see us execute some of the things that we’re trying to do."
Kovalchuk broke a 2-2 tie at 6:06 of the third period. His first shot off Jacob Josefson
’s feed from behind the net was stopped by Cam Ward. He lifted the puck over Ward’s left pad on a second effort.
"That was a good forecheck by JJ and Nick [Palmieri], and the puck bounced right to me," Kovalchuk said. "I got one shot then got the rebound."
Parise scored his second of the game – an empty-net power-play goal – with 1:06 remaining.
"You’re 2-2 going into the third, your conversation is that those are the guys you’re counting on to step up and they did that," DeBoer said.
's 24 saves kept Carolina (0-2-1) winless. He became the first Devils backup to start as early as the second game of the season since Kevin Weekes did it in 2007-08.
"That was great," Hedberg said. "I’m always a little nervous, jitters to see if my game is at the point I think it might be. As the game goes on, I find more and more rhythm. It felt pretty good."
It’s nice to get a win. It always feels good after you win a game. - Ilya Kovalchuk
A year ago, the Devils didn't get their first home win until Nov. 12. Monday's outcome was important for a squad looking to avoid a repeat of last season.
"Definitely," Kovalchuk said. "We wanted to get a win under our belt as soon as we could because we’ve got a lot of young guys who didn’t experience it yet. But I think we played really well, especially Moose. He made great saves at the right times, and that was the difference."
And it's never too early to pick up two points.
"You always talk about it late in the season, 'You need those two points,'" Hedberg said. "Now we got those two points and you have to keep building on them. There's no nights you can give away, or afternoons."
The Devils got off to a flying start, outshooting Carolina, 7-0, in the early going. They improved to 1-1-0, rebounding from Saturday’s season-opening shutout loss to Philadelphia.
|Kovalchuk was mobbed after putting the Devils on top for good.
"I thought we came out, we dictated early in the game how we wanted to play," DeBoer said. "I thought our first 10 or 12 minutes of the game were really good and really set the tone. We took some penalties and that took us out of our flow a little bit. Special teams were good and we found a way to get a win."
Parise's first of the season put the Devils on the board. He redirected a Patrik Elias
feed to make it 1-0 at 3:59. After missing most of last season with a knee injury, Parise netted his first goal since Oct. 23 and his first two-goal game since March 23, 2010.
"That’s always a good feeling to put one in, and to get one early, too," Parise said. "I was telling Patty I didn’t even see the puck, I was just going to the net with my stick there and it hit off my stick. You need some good luck once in a while."
DeBoer applauded Parise's effort.
"Zach’s just a good hockey player," the coach said. "He’s good in any situation you use him in. I thought that’s as close to Zach Parise
at the top of his game, like I remember him, tonight. He was everywhere on the ice. That’s a good sign."
Carolina would rally in the second. Alexei Ponikarovsky’s slot redirection of a Tim Gleason shot sneaked past Hedberg to tie the game at 8:56.
answered with his first of the year to put the Devils back on top, 2-1. He collected a pass from Kovalchuk and ripped a wrister inside the left post at 9:36. The Hurricanes came back on a rush by Chad Larose, who snapped his first over Hedberg’s right shoulder from the right circle at 12:47.
With a chance to retake the lead late in the second, the Devils came up empty on 23 seconds of a 4-on-3 power play, then 15 seconds of a 5-on-3. They finished 1-for-5 with the man advantage and 5-for-5 on the penalty kill, including 44 seconds of a late 3-on-5. The PK has been perfect in 13 chances this season.
Kovalchuk turned the puck over right in front of his own net on a power play late in the second, but Hedberg bailed him out with a pad save.
"I knew he was ready," Kovalchuk said.
DeBoer chuckled when asked about it.
"That was a good [save]," he said. "I wasn’t sure what we were doing there."
Notes and quotes
Parise was feeling good after finding his way back onto the scoresheet.
"No matter what, whether you're playing all the time or once in a while, scoring goal, you always get a little extra jump in your step, there's no question," he said. "That felt good. It felt good to get the first one and we don't have to talk about it anymore."
He missed all but 13 games last season following knee surgery.
"I don't have any doubts that I'll get back to the same – even better than I was before," he said. "But it takes time. It's a long time being away from the game. I think just the biggest part for me is just to be patient and not get too worked up if things aren't going well. It's tough being away for that long and missing all those games.
Said Hedberg: "Same as always – he’s the hardest worker on the ice. One of the most tenacious players I’ve seen play."
's injury means other forwards will have to step up on the penalty kill. Parise contributed at both ends Monday, and led all Devils forwards with 4:18 of shorthanded ice time.
"I have to give Travis a call," Parise joked. "I'm taking all his minutes, now I'm getting gassed. Killing's fun. You never want to just sit on the bench for two, three minutes. I guess when the time is right, it's always fun to go out to kill a little bit and keep your legs going and stay in the game."
• Petr Sykora assisted on Parise's first goal for his first point as a Devil since April 12, 2002. … David Clarkson
played in his 300th career game.
|Three star selections