When the decision came, Zach Parise slammed his stick on the boards in frustration.
He had just scored a dramatic goal to tie the game at 3 with 2.1 seconds left in regulation, jamming a pass from Dainius Zubrus by the left pad of Al Montoya. The Devils lost the draw to Montoya's right with 5.3 seconds to go, but Zubrus was first to the puck in the left corner and sent it to an uncovered Parise in front.
The Rock erupted as the Devils erased their third one-goal deficit of the afternoon. The on-ice call was a goal – but it went to a video review and was subsequently overturned.
A frustrated Parise after the overturned goal.
The NHL's Situation Room ruled that Parise had "used his right skate to propel the puck into the net." The goal was disallowed, and the Devils wound up losing, 3-2, to the New York Islanders on Saturday.
"I just watched it and I'm sorry, but I can't agree with it," a disappointed Parise said.
He said he felt the puck go off of his skate after hitting his stick and thought the referees on the ice made the right call of a good goal.
"But if that's a kicking motion... I don't know," Parise said of the final ruling.
It was a tough finish to a game in which the resilient Devils kept battling back. They trailed 1-0 before Adam Larsson tied it, and 2-1 when Adam Henrique scored on a breakaway to make it 2-2.
That made the results of the video review especially tough to swallow.
"Of course I was angry, in a tight game like that where we worked to get back into it and they make the wrong call," Parise said.
Coach Peter DeBoer said his team will have to turn the page quickly. They open a four-game road trip at Colorado on Wednesday.
"I watched the play, I'm not sure I agree with the decision," DeBoer said. "Based on my view of the replays, I wouldn't consider what I saw a distinct kicking motion, but I don't get to make those decisions. You live with it, and you move on."
Michael Grabner's shorthanded goal would break the 2-2 tie at 5:51 of the third period and send the Devils (12-9-1) to just their fourth loss in the last 12 games (8-4-0).
You could tell that Zach didn't want to kick it, it just went off his skate and he was losing a little bit of balance.- Martin Brodeur
Grabner picked the pocket of Ilya Kovalchuk, who crossed in front of his own net while rushing the puck up ice.
"I make that mistake on the power play, so it cost us the game," Kovalchuk said. "I'll take all the blame for this one."
Kovalchuk saw Grabner coming, but credited him for making a good play to poke the puck off his stick. The speedy forward was stopped on a breakaway and a penalty shot in the Devils' win at Nassau Coliseum on Friday.
"I can't take a risk there," Kovalchuk said. "You're the last guy [back], so I have to make sure."
Martin Brodeur made several spectacular stops against a barrage of breakaways, and took some of the responsibility on the Grabner winner.
"In this instance, I have to blame myself a little bit on the goal, because I made a pass to him and I thought I broke my stick," Brodeur said. "I was looking at my stick, so I didn't really see Kovy go in front of me. When he dropped the puck there, I wasn't really ready to challenge Grabner. Still, he was in the wide open, but if I didn't look at my stick for that one second, two seconds thinking that we had full possession of the puck, I could have maybe made a different play on Grabner."
Brodeur's finest sequence of the afternoon came with the Devils trailing 2-1 late in the second. He stopped a Grabner breakaway, then threw his glove up to rob Kyle Okposo on the rebound with 38 seconds to go. He also foiled Okposo on a break with under three minutes to go in the middle frame.
Brodeur stopped two more breakaways late in regulation, fending off John Tavares with 2:46 left, then Grabner again with 1:53 to go.
"They scored only one [breakaway goal] on us, so it's not too bad," Brodeur joked. He finished with 23 saves. "Definitely a lot of quality chances today. I think maybe it's the style they play, but it seemed that they were able to find guys open behind our D most of the night."
With Grabner's tally, the Devils have allowed a League-high five shorthanded goals.
"It's deflating," Brodeur said. "I think you get an opportunity to try to take the game to a different level, and you get scored on. It's tough. These are momentum switchers in a game that are tough for guys to handle mentally, and especially to go back on the power play after, you're a little more tentative."
Matt Moulson opened the scoring in the first period, snapping a P.A. Parenteau feed by Brodeur from the right circle at 11:28.
Larsson's second of the season made it 1-1 at 4:20 of the second. The rookie blueliner collected a pass from a rushing Kovalchuk, stepped to the slot and fired past Montoya to extend his points streak to five games (1g-4a).
Josh Bailey put the Islanders back on top 2-1 on a goal that was reviewed and allowed at 11:59 of the second. Ex-Devil Brian Rolston fed Bailey for a shot that hit the twine just as David Ullstrom collided with the net, lifting it from behind.
Henrique's fifth of the season erased the one-goal deficit 3:59 into the third. Kovalchuk batted the puck past ex-Devil Mike Mottau along the boards, and Henrique raced in and beat Montoya on his backhand.
Notes and quotes
Kovalchuk was called for unsportsmanlike conduct with 5:41 to go for venting to the refs about a missed high stick by Tavares in front of the New York net.
"I don't know where the referee was looking, but he missed that one, for sure," Kovalchuk said.
Tavares was fined $2,500 for a slash on Parise in Friday's game.
Brodeur on the disallowed goal "You could tell that Zach didn't want to kick it, it just went off his skate and he was losing a little bit of balance. They allowed Jared Boll's goal the other night [in the Devils' 2-1 shootout win over Columbus on Nov. 23]. His foot got up also, and they allowed it. Zach's goal doesn't count, for him, I think it's got to be tough. I think he's been working hard to get his scoring touch. He gets a big goal like that and it gets taken away. It's hard to take."
DeBoer on Kovalchuk's play "When you ask puck-carrying defensemen like Adam Larsson last night to handle the puck and make plays, when you ask the Kovalchuks of the world to bring the puck up the ice consistently every night, you're going to have mistakes. No, it wasn't carelessness. It was a mistake.
"There's a handful of players in the League, a couple on every team, that have the puck on their stick for a lot of the game – he's one of those guys. When you have players like that, you've got to take the good with the bad. He's also the same guy that created two of our goals tonight."
…on Brodeur "He gave us a chance. I thought we played a pretty patient game, I didn't think we had great energy through the first two periods, but we're hanging around and we obviously had to open it up in the third, and got behind. That led to some breakaways and things like that. He made some huge saves to give us a chance to get some points tonight."
• Kovalchuk had two assists for points No. 100 and 101 as a Devil.
• The Devils PK remained perfect on home ice (38-for-38) with two more kills on Saturday. The PP went 0-for-3.
1 - 0 NYI
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 NYI