Devils keep rolling by beating Sharks 2-1
Friday, 02.11.2011 / 10:04 PM
|Ilya Kovalchuk celebrates after scoring his 19th goal of the season Friday night against San Jose. (Getty Images)
– Ilya Kovalchuk
and the New Jersey Devils continued their resurgence Friday night by beating the San Jose Sharks 2-1 at Prudential Center.
Kovalchuk scored his fourth goal in four games and his second game-winner in two nights by beating Antti Niemi with 3:59 left in regulation to break a 1-1 tie. Travis Zajac
won a faceoff to the right of Niemi to Kovalchuk, who spun with the puck and snapped a shot from the edge of the circle for his 19th goal of the season.
The Devils have won four in a row and 12 of 15, while the Sharks lost in regulation for the first time in 11 games.
The game was scoreless through two periods before San Jose's Patrick Marleau broke the stalemate 6:08 into the third period with his 21st goal of the season. Niclas Wallin sent a wrist shot from the left point to the net, and Marleau was able to outmuscle Devils defenseman Mark Fraser
and put the rebound past goaltender Johan Hedberg
, who made 31 saves.
leveled the score a little more than three minutes later, beating Niemi with a blast from the top of the slot during a 4-on-3 power play for his eighth goal of the season.
These were two of the hottest teams in the NHL coming into the contest, and defense played a large role in both clubs’ success. San Jose had yielded just 18 goals in its previous 10 games – a 9-0-1 stretch that lifted the Sharks from outside the top eight in the Western Conference to fourth, and level with Pacific Division leader Dallas on points.
New Jersey has risen from the NHL cellar with an 12-1-2 run after going 10-29-2 in the first half of the season. The Devils have allowed just 28 goals in those 15 contests while moving within 11 points of eighth-place Carolina.
The offense has also been much better of late for New Jersey. The Devils didn’t score more than 3 goals between Nov. 22 and Jan. 8, but they have done so five times during this streak.