Devils 3, Predators 2, SO

Ilya Kovalchuk is not a fan of shootouts.

”I would rather win 3-1,” Kovalchuk said. ”You are one-on-one

against the goalie. I have found you have to relax and do your


He did Saturday night.

Kovalchuk and Zach Parise each scored in the shootout to lead

the New Jersey Devils to a 3-2 victory over the Nashville


Kovalchuk shot the puck over Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne,

who went low in an attempt to block the shot.

”We were watching highlights before the game,” Kovalchuk said.

”We knew Rinne was a big goalie who could move really quick. We

knew he was going to go down and try to block the shot.”

Kovalchuk also scored a power-play goal and David Clarkson added

a goal for New Jersey. It was the Devils’ second straight shootout


Colin Wilson, Jerred Smithson scored for Nashville.

The Predators jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period.

Wilson, skating in the middle of the slot, scored on a tip-in of a

pass from Sergei Kostitsyn at 12:22.

Kostitsyn has one assist in each of Nashville’s four games.

Smthson, stationed a few feet from the net on the left side, put

a wrist shot behind New Jersey goaltender Johan Hedberg at


Hedberg stopped a penalty shot by Kostitsyn at 11:53 of the

first period.

Neither team scored in the second period, but one minute into

the third and on a power play, Kovalchuk fired a wrist shot high

into the left corner of the net that bounced off of the


”It’s always nice to score like that,” Kovalchuk said. ”It

gives you a lot of energy.”

Kovalchuk played a game-high 32 minute, 4 seconds. Nashville

coach Barry Trotz stressed that it is difficult for a player to be

on the ice for that length of time.

”He can fly and he is a big man,” Trotz said. ”He’s hard to

contain. Their whole team got momentum after his first goal.”

Clarkson tied it 2-all at the 7:57 mark, beating Rinne from his

glove side.

”Guys were screaming between periods that this was our game,”

Clarkson said. ”We have enough guys in this room that believe.

It’s fun to come back like this.”

New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer thought his team outplayed the

Predators despite the rough start. New Jersey out shot Nashville

41-31, the fourth time this season the Predators have been


”I think we deserved to win,” DeBoer said. ”Their goaltender

made a few big saves early to give them a chance to have the lead

they had. We felt really good about our game and we just needed to

stick with it. That is what we did.”

Trotz saw some reasons to be happy with his team despite the

second home loss in as many outings.

”We let it get away by a hair,” Trotz said. ”There are so

many positives out of the whole deal. We saw a little bit more of

Predator hockey, especially in the first period.”

NOTES: David Legwand assisted on Wilson’s goal and has been part

of eight of Nashville’s 11 goals this season. … Nashville’s Matt

Halischuk played his first career game against New Jersey, the team

that drafted him in the fourth round in 2007. …This is the only

time the Predators and Devils will play each other this season.