Happy anniversary.

A year ago today, the Devils turned into something unrecognizable by trading for Ilya Kovalchuk, turning their franchise on its ear.

It has been a whirlwind year of turmoil and uncertainty, controversy and NHL sanctions, anything but an unqualified success on or off the ice.

"It wasn't easy, but if I had the same chance, I would do it all over again," Kovalchuk said.

On the final night of his first year as a Devil, the Big Shot helped them climb out of the NHL basement for the first time since Dec. 23, Jacques Lemaire's first night back on the job.

Kovalchuk opened the scoring 1:04 into play, giving the Devils the lead they never surrendered in last night's gripping 3-2 victory at the Garden. He has 10 points (5-5-10) in New Jersey's 8-1-1 rise from the grave that puts them 28th overall, and fourth in the Atlantic.