For the fourth straight game, the Devils put up more than 3 goals. For the fourth straight game, the goaltending has stepped up at opportune times. For the fourth straight game, Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise, David Clarkson, and Patirk Elias have at least a point.
For the fourth straight game, the Devils have won.
In their second afternoon game this weekend, New Jersey defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2. It was somewhat like yesterday's game in Philadelphia where they Devils took an early lead, continued dominance in the middle period, chased their opponent's goalie, and held on a multi-goal lead in the 3rd period. Once again the team's top players were exactly that. The defense even contributed with a goal and an assist. Martin Brodeur was excellent and came up big in the 3rd period to secure the win. He even got an assist, his 4th of the season.
I have a few mroe thoughts on the game after the jump. To see the other side of things, go to PensBurgh for their recap.
The scoring started early in the first. Parise dumped the puck in with Elias gathering the puck behind the net. He and Parise exchange passes to create space. Meanwhile, Kovalchuk comes into the zone late and find open space right in front of Marc-Andre Fleury. His pass from Elias goes 5-hole and trickles in.
Halfway through the period, Brodeur makes a save on Chris Kunitz and the puck is cleared right to Alexi Ponikarovsky. A 4-on-2 turns into an array of wonderful tic-tac-toe passing. Poni fed Anton Volchenkov, who dished it to Kovalchuk and gave it right back to A-train. In what was basically an empty net goal (Fleury had no chance), Volchenkov scored his first game as a Devil and his first in 104 games. Congrats A-Train.
The Devils were able to fend off a few Penguin rushes. Marty stopped basically everything and his defense was in good position to clear away rebounds and loose pucks around the net and in the slot.
Ilya Kovalchuk, who already had two points in the game then festered former Devil Paul Martin on a Pens power play. He stole the puck, skated to the net on the right side of Fleury for a shot. The rebound came to a chasing Dainus Zubrus who buried the rebound. The Pens went to Brent Johnson.
Add in a great play in corner by Steve Bernier in which also led to a rebound goal, this one by Zach Parise, and a David Clarkson empty netter, and the third straight game the Devils put up 5 or more. The offense is clicking once again, they are generating shots and getting goals. Using rebounds, passing, skill, while at 5-on-5 or on special teams, this team is finding ways to score. This is a versatile offense coming out of the All-Star break.
In terms of Corsi at evens, the Devils did very well considering being up the whole game. They finished the game +2. Only the 4th line and the Volchenkoc-Slavador pairing were negative. Parise was a game high +9. Attempts for the game were 48-42 Pittsburgh. Credit the Devils third period effort for this. This was not the 3rd period of the Flyers game. They learned their lesson on that. They survived a few moments where Pittsburgh had them pinned down, but the Devils managed to answer back every time. After Evengi Malkin's power play goal, the Devils tightened up and the Pens had no where to go. The last 5 minutes of the game was great situational hockey. Short shifts, cleared pucks, solid defense and good goaltending. That's what you want from your team in the 2nd half.
Kovy is in beast mode - his third straight 3-point game - he has 10 points in the last 4 games. Just wow. Parise has goals in four straight games with a total of 5. Clarkson and Parise both hit the 20 goal mark.
Overall, I'm feeling great about this team. They are now 1 point behind the Penguins with a game in hand for 3rd place in the Atlantic and 5th in the conference. They just beat the top 3 teams in their disivion. It's good to be a Devils fan.
That's all for today recap. Tell us your thoughts on the game in the comments. Thanks for reading.