Sometimes you beat teams with the skill your team possesses, sometimes your team is in the right place at the right time and sometimes they win on dumb luck. File Wednesday’s win under the third of those choices.
The New Jersey Devils came into their game against the Anaheim Ducks with a lot of demons on the West Coast. They started the season with a long trip throughout Western Canada, and they came out of it with exactly zero wins. This trip caused them to be the last team in the NHL to win a game. They saw some terrible luck while they were on that trip as they blew a three-goal, third period lead to the Edmonton Oilers and allowed the Calgary Flames to pull a win out late against them. This night is when that all came around.
The Ducks missed a few open nets and watched as Martin Brodeur made some of the most miraculous saves you could imagine. That wasn’t even the part that was unlucky. They allowed a rebound goal right to Jaromir Jagr, the Devils’ hottest shooter, with about a minute left in the game to tie it. Even that wasn’t the unlucky part for the Ducks in this game. When the Ducks’ Ben Lovejoy tried to clear the puck out of Jonas Hiller‘s crease and accidentally hit Corey Perry‘s leg, you knew something bad was going to happen. The deflection went backwards and into their own net as they could all just watch in horror.
The best part about this for the Devils is that it happened in overtime, a mode in which they were 0-5 coming into the game. When it came to extra hockey, the Devils were hoping to avoid it. They couldn’t, so they did what they could to make the best of another situation that usually did not go the Devils’ way this season.
Travis Zajac was at the end of a long overtime shift, but he saw the opportunity for an odd man rush for his team. He skated up, clearly tired, and tried to fight through the stick of Lovejoy in front of the goal. The best he could do is kick it at Hiller and hope for a rebound. Out of nowhere the Ducks committed their blunder and he was rewarded with a free overtime goal.
This was a game that the Devils desperately needed. They needed to get their first West Coast win, their first overtime win, and a little luck. They got all three on Wednesday night.