Down two goals in the opening period, the New Jersey Devils didn’t give up. Instead, they waited for their opportunities, exploited spotty defense and used their patented trap to make things miserable for the Washington Capitals.
David Clarkson scored in the fourth round of the shootout, after Johan Hedberg made a pad save on Nicklas Backstrom, and the Devils rallied for a 3-2 victory over the Capitals on Saturday night.
”It was a real gutsy effort in this building, down 2-0 to that team,” coach Peter DeBoer said. ”To hold them to seven shots over the last 45 minutes, I thought it was a real gritty effort.”
Second-period goals by Petr Sykora and Ryan Carter got the Devils even in a game in which they had a 19-17 edge in shots after being outshot 9-8 in the opening period.
”It would have been easy to sit back, but the group of guys around here don’t give up,” Carter said. ”The second period was a statement for us. (We) sat back a little on our heels in the third, weathered a storm and found a way to get two points.”
With the game tied, the Devils relied on their trap. That strategy got them to overtime and eventually a road win.
With the shootout knotted 1-1, Clarkson skated in on Michal Neuvirth, faked to the right and lifted a backhander over the sliding goalie to give the Devils a split in a weekend home-and-home series with the Capitals.
Zach Parise also scored for the Devils in the shootout, and Alex Ovechkin connected for Washington. It was Ovechkin’s only contribution on a frustrating evening in which he had 11 hits as he tried to make up for his lack of offense.
”My job is to score goals, not to make hits,” Ovechkin said. ”The second period, I probably had three chances to score, but I didn’t do the right thing.”
The Devils have won three of four.
Troy Brouwer and Jason Chimera scored for the Capitals in the first period, but Washington coach Bruce Boudreau was denied in his first try at his 200th NHL victory.
Boudreau sidestepped a pregame question about what the milestone would mean, telling reporters, ”I’m not there yet.”
The loss of Capitals defenseman Roman Hamrlik, who went out after taking a cross check in the second period. Boudreau was also missing defenseman Mike Green, and banged-up veteran John Erskine was scratched just before warmups, leaving Washington no time to recall anyone from the minors.
Boudreau was forced to shorten his bench and insert forward Brooks Laich in the back to compensate for Hamrlik’s absence.
”Will you take a point? Yes,” Boudreau said. ”When you have a 2-0 lead, will you take a point? No. The goals they scored were mistakes on our part. If we wouldn’t make those mistakes, it probably would have been a 2-0 game.”
Early on, it looked as though the Capitals had jump in their step after winning 3-1 at New Jersey on Friday night.
Just 6:30 in, Brouwer gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead. Brouwer intercepted Adam Henrique’s pass, skated in on Hedberg, got the goalie down, and beat him at the right post for his fourth goal.
Washington made it 2-0 at 16:10, just as a tripping penalty against New Jersey’s Anton Volchenkov expired. Chimera tipped in John Carlson’s drive from the right point.
However, the Capitals couldn’t extend their surge. New Jersey limited Washington to two second-period shots, and goals by Sykora and Carter erased the Capitals’ lead.
Sykora cut the deficit in half at 12:18, one-timing a short drop pass off a faceoff from the left circle past Neuvirth.
The Devils tied it at 18:54 when Carter, stationed between the circles, redirected a left-wing pass from Bryce Salvador for his first of the season.
NOTES: Boudreau, who was coaching in his 322nd career game, is trying to reach 200 wins in the second fastest time, behind Don Cherry, who needed 341 games in the era before overtime. Since the shootout was introduced in 2005, only Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle has reached 200 wins, doing it in his 374th game. … Green sat out one night after leaving in the first period following a knee-to-knee collision with Carter. Green had missed the previous six games because of a twisted right ankle. … Devils LW Ilya Kovalchuk (lower body) missed his fourth straight game.