Peter DeBoer called it "an adventure right from the drop of the puck."
It was all that and more. His team started slowly, got off the mat, took a lead, lost it, then wrapped it up in a shootout to secure two points in thrilling fashion.
"It's one of those nights that over a long season, they don't ask how, they ask how many," DeBoer said after a 5-4 shootout victory over the visiting Ottawa Senators. "I think that's how we have to approach it."
Adam Henrique's backhander broke a 2-2 tie in the fourth round of the shootout. He made a nifty move to fool Alex Auld before Johan Hedberg sealed the win with a save on David Rundblad.
"I don't decide until the last second, I guess," Henrique said after his first career shootout goal. "The other guys came in and shot, I wanted to try and get him moving, get a fake and maybe get him to bite."
Zach Parise and Patrik Elias scored in the second and third rounds as the Devils (14-12-1) improved to 6-1 in shootouts. Hedberg stopped two of four attempts and used a poke check against Milan Michalek on Ottawa's first attempt.
"It's good to have these situations and come out on top," said Hedberg. "You can learn from it and believe if you get down in this situation again. We've been able to come back."
New Jersey trailed 2-0 after the first period and fell into a 3-0 hole midway through the second. The rally began with shorthanded goals by Parise and Dainius Zubrus. Mattias Tedenby tied the game at 3-3 in the third period, and Ilya Kovalchuk's go-ahead tally 37 seconds later capped a three-goal final frame with 10:15 to go.
But Jesse Winchester would force overtime with less than five seconds remaining in regulation by putting in a Chris Phillips rebound. Phillips got away with taking down Henrik Tallinder in the corner just before the goal.
"It had a little bit of everything, didn't it?" said Parise, who set up Kovalchuk and leads the Devils with three shorthanded goals.
His marker – a blast from the right circle – made it 3-1 in the second. That followed Daniel Alfredsson's power-play strike with a two-man advantage, ending the Devils' perfect penalty kill on home ice (40-for-40).
New Jersey matched a franchise record this season by not allowing a power-play goal in their first 10 home games.
Parise credited Zubrus for sparking the comeback. With Ryan Carter in the box, Elias sent Zubrus in alone on Auld for the Devils' fifth shorthanded goal of the season. Only Carolina has more (6).
"It really got the crowd into the game, gave them something to cheer about," Parise said. "I think from them on, when you're down by two in the third and you can get a shorthanded goal, all of a sudden you can feel them tighten up a little bit. We almost got another shortie after that. But I think the biggest thing was the crowd was able to get in the game and we were able to use that and take over."
Said Parise: "I guess ideally, we'd like to play a more complete game, but we were able to play for 30 minutes tonight and get a win."
Hedberg entered the game to start the second period in relief of Martin Brodeur, who allowed two goals on nine shots in the first. Hedberg finished with 18 saves.
"I always try to stay ready whatever might occur," Hedberg said. "I think tonight was obviously just trying to get a little boost for the guys and maybe change something."
DeBoer said the change in net was a wakeup call for his team, which responded with its biggest comeback win of the season.
"It was a poor start," DeBoer said. "A coach only has so many ways to grab a team's attention, and that's one of them. He paid the price for the team there."
DeBoer was satisfied with the results of the move.
"He came in and did a good job," DeBoer said of Hedberg. "He made a couple of big saves when we needed him to settle us down. He was the benefactor of some better play in front of him than Marty got."
Shorthanded goals against have been an issue for the Devils, who have allowed a League-high eight, including Winchester's on Thursday. But this time they lit the lamp twice on the opponent power play.
"Those are huge momentum swings because the game goes one of two ways there: either they blow you out of the water or what happened happened," DeBoer said. "We found a way to scratch back in."
Parise, Zubrus and Kovalchuk all potted their eighth of the season. Tedenby got his first of the year when David Clarkson's rebound caromed into the net off his chest. Video review upheld the on-ice call of a goal.
Michalek opened the scoring in the first period. Brodeur stopped Jason Spezza's shot from the right wall, Michalek collected the rebound to put home his 18th at 6:31.
Petr Sykora's double-minor for high sticking Chris Neil was little trouble for the Devils' penalty kill, which limited Ottawa to just two shots in the four minutes.
Nick Foligno put the Senators ahead by a pair, picking up a Jared Cowan rebound in front of Brodeur, and patiently lifting it in on his backhand. His 10th of the year made it 2-0 at 17:45.
Notes and quotes The teams played a portion of the overtime 5-on-5 after carryover penalties to Carter and Michalek, and Erik Karlsson expired early in the extra session. It went from a 4-on-3 Devils power play to 5-on-4, then 5-on-5 once Karlsson exited.
"That's a rule," Parise said. "I guess when there's 4-on-4 penalties and we had the power play, they had told us beforehand once those penalties expired, they come out and we play 5-on-5 until the whistle. I don't think the crowd knew because some people were screaming. We knew that was going to happen."
• Henrique extended his points streak to seven games (2g-7a) with two assists. Parise (2g-6a) and Kovalchuk (4g-3a) have both collected points in six straight. Elias (1g-2a) has points in three straight.
• Kovalchuk failed to score in a shootout for the first time this season (4-for-5). Parise improved to 6-for-7. Elias is 2-for-4.
• D Andy Greene (non-displaced toe fracture) did not play and will miss four weeks.
1 - 0 OTT
2 - 0 OTT
3 - 0 OTT
3 - 1 OTT
3 - 2 OTT
3 - 3 Tie
4 - 3 NJD