Devils look to stay hot in Carolina
Monday, 12.26.2011 / 10:22 AM
DEVILS (19-14-1) at HURRICANES (11-19-6)
MSG PLUS RADIO: WFAN 660 AM
New Jersey 7-3-0; Carolina 3-5-2
Third of four meetings. The Devils swept the games played in New Jersey, as Ilya Kovalchuk
had the decisive third-period goal on Oct. 10 in a 4-2 win and Adam Henrique
scored with 3:19 remaining on Nov. 8 for a 3-2 victory.
With both previous matchups between these teams having been tight, down-to-the-wire affairs, the Hurricanes would be advised to try to win this game before it gets beyond 60 minutes. The Devils are 10-1 this season in games decided after regulation, including 8-1 in the shootout, the most wins of any NHL team.
The penalty-shot tiebreaker saved New Jersey once again Friday in its final game before the holiday break. After the Devils raced to a 3-0 lead over the Capitals on goals by Kovalchuk, Alexander Urbom
and Henrique in a span of under eight minutes in the second period, they coughed that entire lead up in the third. But Martin Brodeur
would redeem himself in the shootout with a spectacular glove save on Alex Ovechkin, while Kovalchuk and Patrik Elias
connected to give the Devils a 4-3 win.
"Give me another hour and I'll forget about how we almost messed it up," Brodeur said. "But it's about winning in this League and you learn from some experiences. That's how you build yourself to try to be a better team. This is a lesson learned. We didn't pay a price for it."
It's been a difficult first half for Carolina, which has already replaced its coach and resides at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. But the Hurricanes assured themselves of enjoying their two days off a lot more by pulling out a 2-1 win Friday over the Senators, as Tuomo Ruutu sent the RBC Center faithful home happy by scoring 1:36 into overtime. Cam Ward stopped 22 shots and Andreas Nodl also tallied for the Canes, who won for the first time this season in a game that went beyond 60 minutes.
"It was really textbook for what we talked about, 60 minutes or 60 minutes plus, staying with the game plan and staying mentally tough," coach Kirk Muller said. "I thought we came out hard and played the game we wanted to."
Elias returned from a one-game absence due to an illness and extended his points streak to five games with an assist. He has 4 goals and 3 assists over that span. Kovalchuk had his fourth multi-point effort in five games, and has 7 goals and 9 assists over his last 13 games. ... Ruutu has 3 goals and 2 assists during a four-game points streak for the Hurricanes. Nodl has goals in consecutive games.
New Jersey defenseman Henrik Tallinder
missed a fourth straight game with back spasms, while defenseman Andy Greene
(foot) and forward Jacob Josefson
(collarbone) remain on injured reserve. ... Carolina is missing a pair of key players due to concussions, forward Jeff Skinner and defenseman Joni Pitkanen. Goalie Brian Boucher is on injured reserve with a lower-body injury. Forward Tim Brent missed Friday's game due to undisclosed reasons.
Kovalchuk has converted 6 of 7 shootout attempts this season, while Elias improved to 4-for-6. ... Nodl's goal Friday was originally credited to rookie Riley Nash. In the end Nash still got his first NHL point, an assist, in his second career game.
The injuries to Greene and Tallinder coupled with Adam Larsson
leaving the team to attend his grandmother's funeral opened up a spot on the New Jersey blue line for Urbom, and he didn't disappoint by scoring his second NHL goal in 12 career games over parts of the past two seasons.
"When you get the chance you've got to take the opportunity," Urbom said in the Newark Star-Ledger. "I don't think my role is to score goals."