While blowing a three-goal third-period didn’t thrill New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer, watching his team in the shootout put him in a lot better mood.
It usually has this season.
Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrik Elias scored in the shootout and Martin Brodeur made an outstanding glove save on Alex Ovechkin as the Devils beat the Washington Capitals 4-3 Friday night for their eighth shootout win in nine games.
”We make it interesting on ourselves,” DeBoer said. ”Obviously not the way we wanted to play the third period. We did a lot of good things and got the win. Thankfully, we’ve got 40-plus games to clean up some little things.”
The shootout isn’t one of them. Kovalchuk, who had a goal and an assist, Zach Parise and Elias give the Devils three skill players for the one-on-one stuff and Brodeur is still one of the toughest to beat in penalty shot situations.
”We have so many guys who can do it. We’re confident in doing the shootout and we have confidence in our goalie,” said Kovalchuk, who had a goal and an assist in regulation.
Kovalchuk scored on a wrist shot in the shootout against Michal Neuvirth to give New Jersey the lead
”You just try to read the goalie,” Kovalchuk said. ”I’m sure he was watching the glove side, since I went there the last few times. I just tried to freeze him and then shoot.”
Nicklas Backstrom missed the net on Washington’s first shootout attempt and Parise missed the net with a backhander.
Brodeur followed with his glove save on Ovechkin’s bullet on a play where he teased the Russian by moving his glove up and down.
”He came in on the broadside and had a lot of options,” said Brodeur, who had 22 saves. ”The way he was coming at me, I had to protect the short side and I think I took that away. It was very lucky that he shot it right into my glove. It’s a big challenge, facing one of the top players in the league. He’s unbelievable in the shootout and with his skill, he’s hard to stop.”
Elias then sealed the win.
This marked the second straight game in which the Devils gave up three third-period goals. It cost them against the Rangers on Tuesday in a 4-1 loss.
This time New Jersey got away with it, although the Capitals picked up a point they probably should not have had.
”We spent so much time early on looking for the right combination and things just started to work in the third period,” Washington coach Dale Hunter said. ”We had our chances to win this one. We kept the pressure on them, finally got some goals, but we couldn’t get the last one. I told them to just go out there and work hard and we’d get better chances. They never gave up and just came up short. I’m happy with the effort.”
Alexander Urbom and Adam Henrique also scored for the Devils, who won for the fifth time in six games.
Jason Chimera scored twice and Brooks Laich once for the Capitals in the third period.
”We were too passive,” Elias said. ”When we had the lead up in Montreal, we kept up the pressure. We played with the puck too much and threw it away. We were way too passive and that was the difference.”
Washington seemed to be out of the game after falling behind 3-0 in the second period and having the added frustration of having three shots hit the post.
That didn’t stop them. Laich put the Caps on the board with a backhander in close at 3:48 and Chimera then took over after a shot by Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov hit off the post with a little less than 8 minutes to play.
Chimera got the Capitals within a goal with 7:16 left by jamming a loose puck past Brodeur in a goal-mouth scramble and he tied the game with 1:42 to go in regulation after taking a no-look, backhand pass from Laich and depositing the puck into an empty net.
The Devils scored twice in the opening 4:57 of the second period, and remarkably it was their power play which put the first goal on the board.
Coming into the game, New Jersey had not scored a power-play goal at home since Nov. 2, failing to capitalize on 31 consecutive extra-man chances. The streak reached 32 before Kovalchuk took a pass from defenseman Kurtis Foster near the point and ripped a shot that Neuvirth could not handle at 2:20.
Urbom, recalled from the minors recently with Matt Taormina, got his second career goal a little more than 2 minutes later with the teams playing 4-on-4.
Urbom sent the puck from the left point around the boards and Kovalchuk collected it in the right corner. He quickly found Travis Zajac low in the circle and the center made a nifty pass to Urbom coming in from the point. The 21-year-old defenseman deked Neuvirth out of position and fired the puck into an open net for a 2-0 lead.
Taormina got the primary assist on Henrique’s ninth goal of the season. He took a pass from Elias at the point and his shot was redirected by Henrique into the net at 10:08.
Washington had a couple of chances to get back in the game in the final 10 minutes of the second period, only to be stopped three times by the iron.
Backstrom hit the right post twice in a span of 3 seconds and Alexander Semin clanged one off the crossbar with just more than 3 minutes left in the period after being set up by Backstrom.
NOTES: Washington had not allowed a power-play goal in its last five games. … New Jersey was also without rookie defenseman Adam Larsson, who returned to Sweden to attend his grandmother’s funeral, and defenseman Henrik Tallinder, who has missed four games in a row with back spasms. … Washington is 1-0-2 against New Jersey this season.