The New Jersey Devils defeated the Carolina Hurricanes in overtime, 3-2, thanks to Mattias Tedenby's second goal of the game. And the Rock rejoiced. However, the full story of the game goes deeper than that.
In my preview, I wanted the Devils to get off to a strong start. It was my desired goal for the team. They didn't. Carolina was in sync going forward early and the Devils were just scrambling. However, Johan Hedberg was sharp, the Devils didn't leave too many messes, and over time, their offense showed up. The second half of the first period had New Jersey more in control, with Cam Ward being sharp and the opposition defenders not leaving too much loose on the ice. A 0-0 end to the first was acceptable.
The second period featured both teams seemingly out of sync for quite a while. Carolina's first shot on net in the second period didn't come until after Anton Volchenkov took an elbowing penalty. Jeff Skinner wheeled down, Andy Greene properly held him to the outside, and Skinner fired a shot from a tight angle that Hedberg totally misplayed - and so it went in. That was the first shot on net Carolina had, the first goal of the game. The Canes proceeded to wake up and put several more on net, but the Devils responded not long after. Colin White sent a shot wide, Jason Arnott flung a backhanded pass to the slot, and a crashing Mattias Tedenby put it home. A tie game greeted by some more offense from Carolina. At this point, from what I saw, it seemed Carolina had the better of the period but not by too much.
The third was nearly all New Jersey. Carolina got a few shots in, Jeff Skinner scored incredibly quickly on Volchenkov's third minor of the game (a delay of game call), and that was it for their offense. It had to be, New Jersey wouldn't let them stop defending. The Devils attacked, attacked, and attacked some more. Ward was tested often and made all kinds of stops. The Canes would be all kinds of loose in their own end in terms of not clearing pucks, icing pucks to leave tired players on the ice, getting outworked on shifts by each one of New Jersey's lines, and just fortunate that the Devils didn't get a clear rebound opportunity. It wasn't until there was less than 4 mintues when Nick Palmieri did get to a rebound - created by an Ilya Kovalchuk drive - to equalize. The Devils didn't let up further, as they forced at least three big stops late to prevent a heartbreak for Carolina.
Overtime was necessary and Tedenby trailing on the play put up the perfect shot late to win it.
The Devils went from a slow start to hanging with the Canes in the first, a slow start with the Canes and playing a little catch up in the second; and outright domination in the third period of a Canes team willing to hang back. This momentum carried into overtime where Carolina wasn't completely pinned back - they got a shot on net - but New Jersey was rushing forward and were rewarded for it. That's the full tale of tonight's 3-2 overtime win at the Rock.
Of course, I have a few more thoughts on tonight's win after the jump. For a recap from the other side's perspective, please check out Canes Country.
Here are the stats to the game that I'll be referencing in this recap: the NHL.com game summary, the NHL.com event summary, the Time on Ice 5-on-5 Corsi chart, and the Time on Ice 5-on-5 head-to-head ice time chart.
If you didn't see tonight's game or if you want to see the key moments of tonight's game again, then here's the game highlights video from NHL.com. Marvel at Kovalchuk's rush up ice before Palmieri pounded home the equalizer. Pump your fist as Tedenby scores his two goals of the evening. Palm your face when Hedberg misplayed Skinner's first goal; and again for the PK unit when Skinner scored his second.
Let's focus on that third period for a bit. The Devils outshot the Canes 19-5. The Devils put up 19 shots in a period. The action was primarily in Carolina's end of the rink for most of the third and if it wasn't for some unfortunate bounces and Ward's performance, the Devils would have blown the Hurricanes out of Newark. The Devils had their defensemen pinch, forwards were able to get possession on dump-ins and by carrying it over the blueline, and every line had their moments of success. Even the fourth line, which actually outworked the Canes on more than just a couple of shifts this evening. I'm not sure why Paul Maurice didn't see this happening and tell his guys to look for counter-attacking opportunities. They were there if they wanted to. Even if they didn't score, at least get it out of their end for a little bit.
Regardless, the Devils' Corsi and Fenwick shot through the roof in the third period. Matt noted in the Gamethread that the team was a +4 at the end of the second period. They finished the game at a mindboggling +25 Corsi. The Devils out-shot the Canes 34-20 at even strength, so a big positive value shouldn't be a surprise. But recall that Corsi includes misses and blocked shots. The Devils looked to shoot a ton and did so since they were able to get possession in Carolina's end with so much ease.
While I'm so glad that Palmieri got the equalizer, which rewarded the Devils doing the right thing in the third period, that the Devils attacked so much was heartening. The third period power play goal against was disheartening. The Devils were doing quite well until Volchenkov cleared the puck over the glass and in the blink of an eye, Skinner's at the front of the net, beating a diving Hedberg. Abysmal penalty killing right there, if you can call it that. The Devils of the first half of the season (and many other teams) likely would have collapsed after that. The Devils in this game instead charged forward looking to make up the difference. More evidence that this team has turned it around.
Going critical now, I must say it wasn't the best of nights by Anton Volchenkov. He was fine in terms of his defensive play, but the penalties were dumb. A high-sticking call right after a faceoff on Jiri Tlusty that the Devils PK unit thankfully killed (and had a shorthanded chance by Patrik Elias) was his first. He elbowed Zach Boychuk in the second period that led to Moose's lone botch of the night. That hurt. As did his clearance over the glass in the third period. The rest of the Devils did a fine job in terms of discipline - even the fourth line - and Volchenkov got popped for three. Needless to say, Lemaire kept #28 on the bench for most of the third period after his third minor.
On a positive tip, the rest of the defense was OK. Mark Fayne was the only Devil who finished with a negative Corsi (-1), but he did see Eric Staal, Erik Cole, and Sergei Samsonov the most among Canes forwards. Not easy competition. His main partner, Henrik Tallinder, was very solid defensively in 24:55 of ice time. Nothing flashy, but very effective with a +14 Corsi and few errors. Exactly the kind of performance you'd expect from Tallinder. I thought Andy Greene had a good game too. His partnership with Anssi Salemla was actually looked good tonight (Salmela had a +14 in Corsi too, believe it or not) and Greene played 21:48 at evens and came out with a big +11 in Corsi. Very good to see after witnessing their play in the last few games. White, of course, was good in his end and snagged two assists for his effort tonight. Volchenkov's penalties and the PK getting collectively torched in the third period were the only blotches defensively by the Devils.
Moose had a good night with some flaws. While he made some tough saves, letting in that sharp angle shot by Skinner in the second period was tissue-paper-soft. Later in the period, he stones Carolina on a shot in a slot and again while sliding for the rebound. I guess soft goals sometimes happen, it doesn't preclude the tough ones will be stopped. Hedberg's adventures outside of his crease weren't too bad, though they did get some in the crowd (e.g. me) quite nervous. One additional point that I noticed is that Hedberg can sometimes allow some juicy rebounds off angled shots. Perhaps that has more to do with the shot itself and physics taking over; but much like the Florida game, the Canes didn't try to capitalize by having forwards wait on flanks with some distance from the crease. Of course, the Devils did a good job clearing them out when possible - much better than in the last Florida game. As an aside, Hedberg picked up his first point of the season with the secondary assist on Tedenby's OT winner.
Offensively, it took some time, but the Devils clearly got going in the third period. All four lines were getting it done. I cannot stress this enough. Yes, even the fourth line. Let's talk about that for a little bit. David Clarkson was a big reason why even the fourth line got all positive in Corsi. He registered 5 shots on net and did a lot of dirty work in the corners and behind the net with Rod Pelley and Tim Sestito. It wasn't even a function of the Devils just owning the third period. They even outworked the Staal line for a shift in the first period. No, they didn't score, but that's beside the point. They got possession down low and they forced Carolina to respect them as a line. Clarkson was the driver, Pelley and Sestito hung in there, and so the fourth line had a good game. If they can do what they did tonight a little more often, they would help the team out more.
The second line had a nice performance after cooling off in recent games. Dainius Zubrus put up 3 shots on net, had the best Corsi on the line at +10, and eventually took draws on the line, going 9-for-12 at the dot. Brian Rolston only had 1 shot on net, but he set up plenty of shots for his teammates. I'd say Patrik Elias had an unlucky night. He did have 4 shots on net, 2 blocked, and 1 miss. He was firing away in his 18:43 of icetime. But something was just off. His passes would sometimes go astray. His shots weren't always put in the right location. He was poor at faceoffs, going 2-for-6. He had a shorthanded breakaway on the first PK where he drove into Ward instead of getting a shot off, losing the puck then. He had a glorious chance at the front of the net late in the game - the game winning goal - that he redirected too wide instead of towards the net. Ward got a piece of that, true, but it capped off the kind of night Elias was having. At least he was good at getting the puck forward.
The third line got going as well. While it did feature plenty of Ilya Kovalchuk being double shifted; Jason Arnott put together a very good night. He had 1 shots on net and hit the post on a slapshot from the neutral zone that beat Ward. He got to White's shot off the boards first and coolly set up Tedenby for his first goal. He went 10-for-18 on faceoffs. He had the highest Corsi among Devils forwards with a +11 in 12:39 of ice time.
Speaking of, Ilya Kovalchuk continued his hot streak with another positive Corsi night (+8), 5 shots on net, an assist, and a sense that when he's on the ice, good things are about to happen. He wasn't as dominant as he was on Sunday afternoon, but Kovalchuk did very well tonight. Lemaire did double shift Kovalchuk throughout the game to play Jason Arnott and Vladimir Zharkov in addition to Travis Zajac and Nick Palmieri. I felt Kovalchuk settled down a few more times than he had to when rushing into the zone; looking for a pass or a dump-in instead of trying to make a move towards the net. It's all good though. One of them did lead to something great and Kovalchuk played well on either line.
I should note that by the third period, Zharkov was sitting more and more for those extra shifts and Tedenby got to play with him. A good adjustment given how well Tedenby played in his limited minutes. In 8:59 of ice time, I'd say Tedenby made a strong case for more games and more minutes tonight. Tedenby put up 3 shots on net, got a +6 in Corsi, and, of course, scored a brace. On the two goals, how Tedenby read the play was as instrumental as Tedenby's finish.
For the first one, it was while he was off the puck. He drove to the net when there was space after White's shot; and so he was in the right place when Arnott flung the puck into the slot. One-timer and it's in. Nice enough. For the second one, it was with the puck and showcased his decision making better. He trailed Zajac going into the zone on the counter-attack so he got the drop pass and Zajac drove to the center. Zajac drew attention from Tim Gleason, while Tedenby still hung back with the puck to trail Zajac. When Zajac got Gleason and Ian White together, Tedenby saw the shooting lane and fired a blistering shot past Ward's right side. Tedenby could have darted forward off the drop pass or stayed wide to look for a Devil to set up; but by following Zajac, he got an open shot. Even if Ward stopped it, it was the right decision to make given the 4-on-4 situation in OT and how the Devils were attacking. I'm sure Lemaire and the coaches will notice that when reviewing this game, and hopefully Tedenby will be rewarded with more minutes.
For now, he'll just have to settle for being the hero of the night at the Rock.
That's my take on tonight's game. What did you think of the Devils performance tonight? Astounded at how well they did in the third period, or do you think "domination" was a bit of an exaggeration? Were you relieved when the Devils didn't get beaten early despite a slow start? Who did you think had the best game on the ice for the Devils? What do you think the Devils should improve upon for their upcoming back-to-back set? Do you know why Eric Staal had such a quiet 22:36 with no shots on goal (Was Tallinder, Fayne, and the Elias line really that good against them - as the head-to-head ice time chart seemingly suggests)? Please leave your answers and other thoughts on tonight's game in the comments. Thanks to everyone for commenting in the Gamethread, and thank you for reading.