First, I would like to apologize for being so delayed. For those of you who were at the game, you know what I am talking about when I say the traffic was terrible. What is usually a 40-minute trip turned into a two-hour trip. Sorry for the inconvenience!
Newark, N.J. - The New Jersey Devils defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 in their season series finale, as well as leaving the fans happy with a win in their last home game.
The Devils came out flying, registering eight shots to none within the first seven minutes. However, the Penguins stopped the momentum with a goal on just their second shot 8:52 into the first period. Matt Cooke pounded the puck home during a scrum in front of Devils goalie Johan Hedberg.
Hedberg was rewarded his first start since Martin Brodeur returned from injury on March 21, and earned his first win since March 13.
The Penguins extended their lead on a power play goal with just under six minutes remaining in the second period. Jussi Jokinen streaked down the left side and fired right over Hedberg’s blocker side.
But it was all Devils from there. Travis Zajac cut the lead to one with his seventh goal of the year. David Clarkson screened goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, allowing Zajac’s shot to find the back of the net. The goal came at 18:33 in the second and gave the Devils some momentum to build off of heading into the third.
The Devils did just that when Clarkson added a goal for himself to tie the game on the power play at 16:59 in the third period.
Just over ten minutes later, Ilya Kovalchuk netted the game-winning-goal. It was Kovalchuk’s first goal since the 5-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on March 13.
The clock hit double zeros and the last goal horn of the season went off. The Devils players then gave their salute to the crowd.
Patrik Elias got his 21st and 22nd assists on the year and was awarded with the second star of the game. As Elias was giving the post-game interview on the ice he received “Patty! Patty!” chants from the crowd. Elias will be a free agent this summer, but is expected to re-sign with the Devils.
Eric Gelinas made his NHL debut tonight. The 6-foot 4-inch 210-pound defenseman played 22 shifts for 15:59 minutes of ice time. Gelinas, 21, was a second round pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. In 57 AHL games this season, Gelinas scored six goals and 16 assists for the Albany Devils.
It was a great overall performance by the Devils and an even better experience for the fans who went home happy. The Devils, who were eliminated from the playoffs Sunday afternoon, have won four out of their last five games and are looking to finish the season in tenth place in the East.
The Devils end their season in what will be a heated match up against the New York Rangers Saturday afternoon.
Attendance - 16,122
1st Star - Ilya Kovalchuk (Goal, Assist)
2nd Star - Patrik Elias (2 Assists)
3rd Star - David Clarkson (Goal)