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2/5 -- Devils Game Recap

By: Brian Deakyne

Final Score: New Jersey Devils (36-18-2) 4, Toronto Maple Leafs (18-29-11) 3

1st Period Analysis: Two minutes into the game, it was the Devils fans who were applauding restlessly--not because New Jersey did anything special--but because newly-acquired Devil Ilya Kovalchuk touched the puck for the first time. The period was action packed, mostly in the form of back-and-forth play between the Devils and Leafs. At 13:20, Dainus Zubrus would score the game's only goal, his fourth of the season, assisted by Ilya Kovalchuk--his first point as a Devil--and Jamie Langenbrunner; a line that was dominant throughout the period. A late power play for New Jersey was unsuccessful but chances were there, led by the same trio who were responsible for the only goal--Zubrus-Kovalchuk-Langenbrunner. Both goalies, Martin Brodeur and Jonas Gustavvson were solid, Brodeur stopping all seven Toronto shots while Gustavvson turned away nine of the 10 Devils shots.

2nd Period Analysis: The second was a period controlled by Toronto, much like two nights ago. t started early with a power play goal by Tomas Kaberle, his 6th of the season, tying the game at one. Seven minutes later, Lee Stempniak scored another power play goal, his 14th of the year, giving Toronto the 2-1 advantage. After controlling play for the remaining of the period, Rickard Wallin took advantage of a Jamie Langenbrunner turnover in the Devils zone and netted his first goal of the season, giving the Maple Leafs a 3-1 lead at the end of the period.

3rd Period Analysis: The final period between was rather uneventful early--despite back-and-forth action on both ends. Late in the period, after both teams registered five shots, it was Dean McAmmond drawing the Devils within one, scoring his 6th of the season at 16:56 on a back-handed goal. Shortly after, it seemed that Zubrus would score again to tie the game, but was tripped before he could pull the trigger. On the ensuing Kovalchuk-quarterbacked power play, Travis Zajac would score the tying goal, his 17th of the season at 19:16--but New Jersey wasn't finished. Twenty-five seconds later, Jay Pandolfo netted the game winner with 19 seconds left, his 4th of the season to give the Devils a 4-3 win.

The Final Tally: For the majority of this game, it seemed as if Toronto would take New Jersey, much like they did three nights ago. But late, it was the Devils who stepped up and proved they were indeed the better team. Three goals in the final 3:04 would give New Jersey a much-needed win in Ilya Kovalchuks debut. Maybe it was the excited presence of Kovalchuks play, or maybe it was the fact that the Devils were sick of losing to inferior teams--but something sparked the Devils late in the period--and pushed them to a win they needed badly.


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