NHL

Reworked line combos pay off for Devils

Watch highlights of the Devils' win over the Rangers in Game 2.
Watch highlights of the Devils' win over the Rangers in Game 2.
Hockey Primetime Denis Gorman
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NEW YORK

What do you do if you lost the series opener in shutout fashion and generated only 62 shots?

If you’re New Jersey Devils coach Pete DeBoer, you decide to reunite your three most talented offensive players.

DeBoer had Travis Zajac center Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise during the Devils’ Wednesday morning skate at the Prudential Center, and they were New Jersey’s top line in Game 2.

Kovalchuk scored a goal on which Parise was credited with a secondary assist. The trio finished with two points and seven shots on goal while being strong on the puck throughout.

The trio occupies the top three slots in playoff goal scoring for the Devils. Kovalchuk leads the Devils with six goals, Zajac is second with five and Parise has scored four in 13 games.

“On offense, shuffling guys around has been something we’ve done all year," DeBoer said. "[I’m] definitely not married to those combinations and I’m not even sure we’re going to start with those combinations. It’s just how we decided to skate this morning.”

MORE NOTES

• The Rangers announced the call-up of six players from AHL Connecticut on Monday afternoon. Goaltender Cam Talbot, defensemen Tim Erixon and Dylan McIlrath, and forwards J.T. Miller, Kris Newbury and Casey Wellman were promoted to the big club after the Rangers’ AHL affiliate was eliminated from that league’s playoffs.

Of the sextet, only Erixon and Newbury played with the NHL club this season. Newbury compiled 24 penalty minutes and a minus-1 rating in seven games while Erixon recorded two assists and a minus-two rating in 18 games.

The two most intriguing names are Miller and McIlrath. The Rangers selected McIlrath, a defenseman with the Western Hockey League’s Moose Jaw Warriors, with the 10th overall pick in the 2010 draft. The Rangers envision McIlrath developing into a stay-at-home defenseman who handles on-ice policing duties. He totaled 324 penalty minutes in 180 games in three seasons with Moose Jaw.

Miller was the 15th pick in last June’s draft. The forward from Ohio passed on a scholarship to the University of North Dakota to play junior hockey with the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario [Junior] Hockey League. He totaled 25 goals and 62 points in 61 games along with 61 penalty minutes.

During his pregame media availability Wednesday morning, coach John Tortorella explained the organizational thinking as wanting to “have players ready to play in case we run into injuries.”

• There was a delay before the start of the second period due to puddles of water on the ice, and there was an extended stoppage of play during the period as the door to the visitors’ penalty box was stuck. Eventually maintenance workers were able to open the door.

• Chris Kreider became part of NHL history with his power-play goal Wednesday night. Kreider tied the Montreal Canadiens’ Eddie Mazur for most playoff goals scored (4) before scoring a regular season goal. Mazur scored his goals during the 1951, '52 and '53 postseasons. Kreider also tied Mazur and current Washington Capitals GM — and former Ranger — George McPhee for most points scored in a playoff season before recording a regular season point with six.

You can follow Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman

Tagged: Devils, Rangers, Zach Parise, Kris Newbury, Ilya Kovalchuk, Tim Erixon

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