Zharkov was mobbed by teammates after his first NHL goal.
UNIONDALE, NY -- The Devils and Islanders played a wild, goal-filled matinee on Monday, but Vladimir Zharkov will always remember it as the day he notched his first NHL goal.
Zharkov opened the scoring in the first period of the Devils’ 5-2 victory at Nassau Coliseum. Mattias Tedenby and Rod Pelley each had a goal and an assist as the Devils won for the third time in their last four games.
Zharkov, 23, finally got his elusive first tally in his 49th NHL game. He had endured a couple of near-misses recently: at Philadelphia on Jan. 8, then at Tampa Bay on Friday.
He smiled ear to ear after coming around the back of the net to swat home Tedenby’s rebound 4:25 into the contest. The Devils' 2006 third-round selection was even happier about the victory.
"For sure, I enjoyed it," Zharkov said. "I enjoyed it because it's a huge game for us. Big two points for us."
He added: "I feel great."
I enjoyed it because it's a huge game for us. Big two points for us.- Vladimir Zharkov on his first NHL goal
"It's like winning the lottery," said head coach Jacques Lemaire. "It's really good because he's getting chances and hasn't found the net yet. Tonight, it's great that he gets a goal. He'll know how it feels to score goals and maybe he'll score more."
Ilya Kovalchuk followed Zharkov with a power-play strike 57 seconds later as the Devils jumped ahead 2-0 in the opening 5:22. He blasted an Andy Greene feed past Islanders goaltender Kevin Poulin for his team-leading 13th of the season.
Kovalchuk has 351 career goals in his career, but knows the first one is special.
"Hopefully, it's not going to take him 60 games to get his second one," Kovalchuk said of Zharkov. "He got a lot of chances, and he played well. He played well as soon as he got called up. He works hard, he makes great defensive plays so he really deserved that one."
Martin Brodeur made his fourth straight start and needed 27 saves for his 45th career win against the Islanders. He extended his NHL record with career victory No. 610.
The Devils (13-29-3) have scored 18 goals in their last four games, collecting seven of a possible eight points over that span. They secured their first win in three meetings with the Islanders.
"You have to be happy with that," Brodeur said. "Give me five goals every game, we'll win a lot. Trust me."
A nifty goal by Tedenby – his fifth – made it 3-0 in the second period and held up as the difference. He dangled around the net and retrieved Mark Fraser's rebound for a backhander over Poulin’s glove at 6:40 of the second.
He was excited to be back in the lineup after being scratched in the last six games.
"I didn't think too much," Tedenby said. "Just waited and tried to look at Jacques' system when I was scratched, and tried to take it in, so when I hit the ice today, I knew exactly what to do. It was actually good."
After the Islanders cut the deficit to 3-2, Pelley and Dainius Zubrus each scored to round out the five-goal middle frame. Jason Arnott recorded assists 499 and 500 of his career. Fraser also had two helpers.
"You look at the guys tonight, they went at the net, and we scored a few goals because we went at the net," Lemaire said. "This is what I'm looking for. Some nights they'll go in, other nights they won't, what can you do?"
PA Parenteau appeared to have gotten his second of the game to trim the Devils' lead to 5-3 with 1:29 remaining in the second. But the goal was disallowed after it was determined that Michael Grabner had collided with Brodeur in the crease, leaving Brodeur unable to make the save.
"I think it's the right call," Brodeur said. "I think he didn't do it on purpose to go the net, but he definitely prevented me from making the save. He hit my head with his butt there, and my mask flew off. I was inside the net when (Parenteau) put it in. I was surprised when the referee called it a goal. At least they talked about it. One guy didn't make a decision knowing three other guys had a different version of it.
"It was definitely pretty nice. You don't see that too often that they're going to make a call like that. I have to give credit to the referees."
Lemaire used his timeout in the second after Parenteau and Grabner had scored 54 seconds apart to cut the Devils’ lead to 3-2.
"We were giving them the puck at that time and it just fed them with energy," Lemaire said. "They were taking it and coming hard. I just told them to relax."
Pelley and Zubrus responded, putting in loose pucks to restore the three-goal advantage.
DEVILS NOTES Anton Volchenkov returned to action after missing three games following the passing of his father, Russian hockey great Alexei Volchenkov. … Adam Mair, Matt Corrente, and Anssi Salmela were scratched. … Arnott on reaching 500 assists: "Any time you reach a milestone, it's exciting, especially in this League." … The Devils were 1-for-2 on the power play, and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill.
Coach's quotes Lemaire on Tedenby:
"I wanted to get the guys to know the defensive game that we wanted to play. I was teaching that. I didn’t know him at all as a player. I felt that it was easier. I like Mair. I like what he did for us. He’s really intense in practices. He wants to play. He does everything you ask him to do and that’s why I kept him in the lineup. Now that I feel we’re past that step with our defensive game, although there’s always improvements you can bring, now we’re looking at different aspects of our game."
On Kovalchuk, who has three goals, two assists in four games:
"You're talking about points, and I'm going to tell you he's more aware of his defensive game. He's playing better, shooting pucks, playing good. He's responsible defensively; he's getting to know that game, too."