Mar 23, 2013; Newark, NJ, USA; New Jersey Devils right wing Ilya Kovalchuk (17) skates with the puck while being defended by Florida Panthers center Shawn Matthias (18) during the third period at the Prudential Center. The Devils defeated the Panthers 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Devils Stay Alive, Kovalchuk Returns, Offense Explodes For 6-2 Win

Newark, N.J. - The New Jersey Devils earned their second straight win today in a 6-2 win over the Florida Panthers.

During the pre-game ceremonies, the Devils showed their support for Boston with the singers of the national anthem wearing Boston sports teams jerseys and showing on the scoreboard “Jersey Stands With Boston”.

Along with the support for Boston, the fans cheered for Ilya Kovalchuk as he made his return from a shoulder injury he suffered against the Panthers on March 23rd. Chants of “Kovy!” spread throughout the stadium.

Devils support Boston after all of the tragic events over the past week. Mandatory Credit: David Garrison – Pucks & Pitchforks.

The Devils had a shaky start giving up two goals in less than a minute in the first period. Marcel Goc opened the game up 6:11 into the period on a partial breakaway. Then at 7:05, Brian Campbell scored his eighth goal of the season to extend the lead. The Devils were extremely sluggish to open the period. They did not register a shot until just prior to the halfway mark of the first period.

The Devils got their first power play opportunity on a hooking penalty to the Panthers’ Alex Petrovic. Patrik Elias netted the first power play goal in 22 opportunities at 14:22, bringing the game to within one.

Starting off strong in the second period, the Devils pressured the Panthers, giving them no opportunities. About two minutes into the second, Elias scored his second goal of the game, knotting the game up at two.

It was all Devils from there. David Clarkson regained the team lead of 14 goals at 10:45, putting the Devils in front 3-2. Less than four minutes later Steve Bernier made a great play setting up Ryan Carter’s sixth goal of the year, further extending the Devils lead to 4-2.

Mar 7, 2013; Newark, NJ, USA; New Jersey Devils center David Clarkson (23) and left wing Patrik Elias (26) congratulate each other on scoring goals during the shootout at the Prudential Center. New Jersey Devils defeat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 in shootout. Mandatory Credit: Jim O

3:33 later, Stephen Gionta scored his fourth of the season on a breakaway. The goal looked to seal the deal for the Devils because the Panthers were shut down on offense. The Devils defense held the Panthers to only four shots in the second period.

The Devils would add one more goal when Dainius Zubrus deflected Adam Larsson’s shot. By now it was safe to say that the Devils tamed the Panthers.

The six goal performance is the most that the Devils have scored all season. The win also brings them within six points of the eighth-seed New York Rangers. With only four games remaining, the Devils need to win the remainder of the season and the Rangers to lose at least three out of four their last four games.

The Devils head across the river to take on the Rangers tomorrow at 3:00pm. It is another must-win game for the Devils.

Other Facts:
Attendance - 16,018

1st Star - Patrik Elias (2 Goals)
2nd Star - David Clarkson (Goal, Assist)
3rd Star - Stephen Gionta (Goal, Assist)

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Tags: Florida Panthers Ilya Kovalchuk New Jersey Devils

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