A lot can change in 48 hours, as Ilya Kovalchuk goes from goat to hero as he capped off the Devils comeback victory with his overtime winner to propel the team to their first home win of the season. Kovalchuk set up by Elias and Tallinder ripped home his 4th of the season to send the crowd home happy…for once. Instead of boos, cheers filled the Rock while Kovalchuk stood at center ice for a postgame interview.
It wasn’t easy though, as the Devils fell behind 2-0 and 3-1 and had to wait until a power-play midway through the third to even the score at three. But it was a night of firsts at the Rock, as Kovalchuk netted his first PP goal of the season, Brian Rolston, returning from injury, scored his first of the season and Alexander Vasyunov and Mattias Tedenby each scored their first career NHL goals.
Kovalchuk might have capped the night off with the game winner, but it was the two young rookies who stole the show. Tedenby and Vasyunov played their best games of their young careers tonight. Both forwards seem to play better as each game goes on. Tedenby drew a penalty tonight, scored a goal and was all over the ice. Backchecking hard, winning chases to the puck and winning battles in the corner, he is starting to fit in nice with the Arnott-Elias combo.
Speaking of the Elias-Arnott-Tedenby line, they dominated all night long. Elias has been the best Devils player the past two games, controlling the play, making smart decisions with the puck and recording 2 assists in each game. Jason Arnott continues to play well as he leads the team in goals with six.
Defensively, they played a strong game keeping the Oilers to 24 shots on goal. The Oilers scored two of their three goals on miscues by the Devils. The second goal came right after Oliver Magnan couldn’t handle a puck that he knocked down of mid air and the third was after a bad line change causing an odd man rush. Other than that, the D kept the skilled Oilers forwards in check all night. Brodeur looked sharp all night in his return from his elbow injury to record his 4th win of the season.
It was a great night at the Rock as the Devils finally won, but tonight has to be the start of good things to come. On the road for the next three games, I would say it’s crucial to pick up at least four if not all six points to get them out of the basement of the NHL once and for all.
Notes: The PK was perfect shutting down all four power-play chances. The PP was also a big contributor going 2/4 and now 3/6 in their last two games. Keeping things simple has been a key for their recent success. Shots from the point getting through and bodies crashing the net make it difficult for goalies to stop the puck if they can’t see it.