Ilya Kovalchuk scored twice but Stephen Gionta stole the show. His first NHL goal was also the game winner, as the New Jersey Devils beat the Ottawa Senators 4-2 on Saturday to finish the regular season with a six-game winning streak.
Gionta, the younger brother of former Devils forward Brian Gionta, roofed an Alexei Ponikarovsky rebound home to give New Jersey the win. The Devils finished as the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference with 102 points. New Jersey’s 48 wins was the third best in franchise history.
After failing to qualify for the playoffs last season for the first time since 1996, the Devils are back and playing at the top of their game. The six consecutive wins is a season high with the New Jersey outscoring their opponents 22-9 over the span.
The Devils ended the season with a 89.58% penalty kill, breaking the record held by the Dallas Stars (89.25%) since the 1999-00 season. In 259 power play chances against, New Jersey surrendered a mere 27 goals, a team record.
The Devils won’t know who their first round opponent is until Saturday night. They could face either the Washington Capitals or Florida Panthers. New Jersey takes on the Caps if Washington wins and the Panthers fail to gain a point. The Devils will face Florida if the Panthers can earn at least one point in their season finale.
This season has been a lot of fun, but it was just the regular season. This Devils teams wants to win the Stanley Cup. Martin Brodeur is 39-years-old and may not have another opportunity to win his fourth Cup. Plus, could this be Zach Parise’s last hoorah as a member of Jersey’s team?
I don’t care if they face Washington or Florida I’m just looking forward to a good showing. The Devils really haven’t been a relevant playoff team in years. Can you believe they have not been to the second round of the playoffs since 2006-07. They are due.
Let the games begin.
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