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1/29-- Devils Game Recap

By: Brian Deakyne

Final Score: New Jersey Devils (35-16-2) 5, Toronto Maple Leafs (17-27-11) 4 (OT)

1st Period Analysis: Following two games where the New Jersey Devils couldn't seem to finish quality chances, no one knew how Jersey's Team would come out against the Maple Leafs. Early, it was both teams playing strong defense, as slow back-and-forth action took over for the first six minutes. Toronto broke the tie at 6:11 when Carl Gunnarsson scored from the point on a broken play, his first goal of his career. It wouldn't take long for the Zach Parise-Dainus Zubrus-Travis Zajac to answer, as a heavy fore check left Parise open in the crease, and he banged home the tying goal a minute and second after Gunnarsson's goal. Nearly six minutes later, the fore check from those three forwards would strike again, finding Parise open in the slot, his second of the game and 26th of the season. Back-and-forth action would conclude a period in which the Devils would end with a 2-1 lead, and a period in which Devils' head coach Jacques Lemaire has to pleased because they finally took advantage of chances.

2nd Period Analysis: Despite a convincing first period, the struggling Devils power play was evident early in the second, against Toronto, who has the worst penalty kill in the league percentage wise, as they failed yet again and are now 1 out of their final 27 opportunities over the last ten games. The teams would alternate chances until Zubrus would bury home a pass from Zajac, his third of the season, giving New Jersey a 3-1 advantage. The Devils would take control of the game from there-on, but Toronto wasn't ready to go quietly. Colton Orr would surprise Martin Brodeur at 14:41, drawing Toronto within a goal, until three minutes later when Devils' rookie Patrick Davis would score his first career goal, giving the Devils a two-goal edge once again. The first-place Devils would end the period successfully killing a penalty, heading into the locker room leading 4-2.

3rd Period Analysis: Dump and chase hockey would take over this hockey, with action on both ends. Still, it was Alexei Ponikarovsky who scored due to a heavy Leafs fore check at 14:59 to draw Toronto within one, then Matt Stajan nearly four minutes later to tie the game with his 16th goal of the season, sending the teams into overtime at an even score of four.

Overtime Analysis: In the extra period, odd-man rushes were a constant, and a 2-on-1 for New Jersey would draw a hooking penalty. On that power play, Lemaire would put four forwards on the ice, including the trio (Parise, Zubrus and Zajac) that were responsible for three of the four Devils regulation goals. Zajac would bury home the power play overtime winner as the Devils win 5-4.

The Final Tally: If there's a positive to take out of this for Jersey's Team, it will be that they finally connected on quality chances, a component that has been missing from them over the past nine games. Still, one of the worst teams in the conference brought the Devils into overtime, not something New Jersey was looking for. Regardless, this is a good win for the Devils as they got back to their winning ways.


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