Five games without a point is a mini-slump for most players. For Ilya Kovalchuk, it’s a drought. But it ended Thursday night, and the Devils won their third straight game, thanks to the spark from the supremely skilled sniper. Kovalchuk scored a tie-breaking shorthanded goal and assisted on two power-play goals to propel the Devils to a 4-2 victory over the explosive Lightning in front of 14,802 at the Prudential Center. It was the second shorthanded goal of the season for Kovalchuk. No other team has more than one. “I wasn’t worried about Kovy, it was just a matter of time,” Devils coach Pete DeBoer said. “He could’ve had four [goals] tonight if he wasn’t being unselfish at the end of the game trying to set everyone up, but that’s him.” Kovalchuk’s five-game pointless streak was his longest since he went six games without a point during December 2010, his first year in New Jersey. It ended with 2:26 left in the second period when he picked off a pass in the Devils zone, darted ahead on a 2-on-1 with Travis Zajac and whipped a snap shot past Lightning goaltender Anders Lindback into the bottom right corner. It was still 2-1 with 4:58 left, when Andy Greene and Patrik Elias scored 14 seconds apart with the Devils (6-1-3, 15 points) on a 5-on-3 power play after three penalties, including a bench penalty for abuse of an official, were called on the Lightning (6-4-0, 12 points) in the span of 19 seconds. “We’re getting pucks to the net. We’re getting rebounds. Everything’s going,” said Adam Henrique, who scored the Devils’ first goal, getting to the rebound of an Anton Volchenkov slap shot 3:28 into the second period. “The power play, the penalty kill has been great the last three games. It’s starting to all come together.” Besides Kovalchuk’s tally down a man, the Devils penalty kill continued to perform at a high level. The Lightning fanned on five opportunities and had few chances. New Jersey has killed off 19 straight penalties. “It’s been a staple I think all of last year and we’re playing with that confidence,” DeBoer said.
Ilya’s key goal fuels Devils
New York Post | Feb 8