Instant Insight: Game Seventeen – Devils 3 Capitals 2

Ilya Kovalchuk was the first star in the Devils win over Tampa Bay on Thursday.(FutureNJGov/Wikimedia Commons)

Ilya Kovalchuk had the game winning goal in the 3rd period. (FutureNJGov/Wikimedia Commons)

What happened: The New Jersey Devils  made the most of five straight power plays in the third period, scoring two goals 2:29 apart midway through the third period as they took down the Washington Capitals in Washington by a 3-1 score.

Star of the Game:  Ilya Kovalchuk.  He played over a dozen minutes in the third period and scored the game-winner on the power play.  He logged 28:58 of ice time including an absurd 8:48 on the PP.  

Goat of the Game: The referees.  I really can’t even pick anyone on Washington.  Some of the calls were merited but one or two them looked to be extremely touchy.  It finally led to the game-tying goal after the third power play and the game-winner on the final marker.

Turning Point:  Tom Poti’s “boarding” of David Clarkson.  It happened just after the Andrei Loktionov goal.  A puck was directed towards Clarkson near the blue line.  He barely put his stick on the puck and Poti bumped him late but it was NOT a clear boarding call.  The Devils lucked out big time and it turned into the game-winner from Kovy.

Grades

Offense: C-plus – Aided by some penalty calls, but anytime this team gets to three goals or more in a night, I love their chances to win.  Need to see a bit more consistency towards a 60-minute effort.

Defense: C-minus- A frustrating turnover by Bryce Salvador and an awful misplay by Henrik Tallinder led to both goals.  They didn’t have to play much defense in the third since they were always on the power play.

Goaltending: A-minus-  Martin Brodeur had no chance on either goal.  He played pretty solid.  He made things interesting during some points of the contest but stopped the ones he should have.

Special Teams: D-plus – How has the PK taken this far of a dive?  The player personnel is not that different and Dave Barr is still running it.  They set a post-lockout record last year.  All of the sudden, not only PP goals but MULTIPLE power play goals on game nights?  There’s got to be an answer for this.  For the PP…bad puck movement but decent results I guess considering it got them the goal that mattered.

Instant Analysis:  Definitely some more life in the team’s effort after a few underwhelming games.  Still a lot to work on and clean up regarding the special teams, but they played pretty strong 5-on-5, which is a VERY encouraging sign.

I think the two days off definitely gave them some extra energy.  They don’t have to travel or move at all over the next two days, so that’ll only help them re-charge their batteries even further.

We said someone needed to step up and dominate and that was Patrik Elias, scoring a goal and having an assist on the game-winning goal.

While the Devils started out the first period hot, they couldn’t find their way to a goal. Allowing the Captials to take the lead due to some bad defensive gaffs was troubling, but they were able to band together to keep them off the board in the third.

While the two 5-on-3 power plays lacked puck movement, even worse was that they had to wait until the subsequent 5-on-4 to net the eventual game winner.

Was it pretty? Not at all. In the end, the two points are what matters and now they can try to build on this game for the second half of this two game series in Washington.