Ilya Kovalchuk's Big Night Sinks the Islanders plus other Musings

By Steve Palumbo

Any trepidation the New Jersey Devils may have had entering Thursday nights rematch with the New York Islanders was quickly washed away during a 5-1 rout at the Prudential Center.

Led by Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise, New Jersey lit up Islander goalie Evgeni Nabakov after having been shutout 1-0 by rookie goalie Anders Nilsson in their last meeting.

The Devils clearly came out to prove that last weeks loss was nothing more than a blip on the radar. Despite being out shot 30-20, the Devils controlled almost every other facet of the game.

I’m not going to recap the game as I’m sure most of you saw what took place but I would like to highlight a few things that indicate just how well the team played as a whole.

  • New Jersey has struggled all season long in the face-off circle but last night they won 30 on the 49 draws.
  • The Devils killed off all three Islander power plays and finished 1 for 3 themselves with the man advantage.
  • Nine different players showed up on the scoresheet for the Devils, including  five with two points or more. (Kovalchuk, Elias, Parise, Henrique, Zidlicky)
  • Kovalchuk’s hat trick was his second in less than a month.  It was also his fourth goal in the last two games. Clearly Kovy’s heating up at just the right time. Furthermore, the Russian sniper has reclaimed the team lead in goals scored with 29.
  • Martin Brodeur won his second straight game after having lost his previous five starts. But, the losing streak was no indication of how well he’s played and last night was no different. he made 29 saves to improve his season record to 24-17-3. With 15 games left it’s conceivable that Brodeur could earn the 14th 30-plus win season of his career.
  • New Jersey earned points 80 and 81  equaling their total from all of last season. What a difference a year makes.
  • Marek Zidlicky looked cool, calm and collected on the ice. He made several outstanding passes which drew high praise for Kovalchuk. Although it was the first time he earned a point in a Devils sweater, he’s proving to be a difference maker on the ice.
  • David Clarkson scored a goal last night on a phenomenal redirection. It was his 27th of the year and yes he has a real shot at 30 goals – Enough said.
  • Zach Parise notched his points number 399 and 400 of his career. I hope it’s the first of many significant milestones in New Jersey.
Scheduling Oddity – The Devils have a day off before taking the long and arduous journey to Long Island. A win on Saturday would give the Devils three out four wins against New York based teams in the same week. Next week they play three of four games against teams from Pennsylvania. That essentially means the Devils will have played seven of eight games against teams from the tri-state area. Go figure.

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