The New Jersey Devils are one of the best teams in the shootout, and it's vaulted them into fifth in the Eastern Conference.
New Jersey defeated the Anaheim Ducks, 3-2, in a shootout tonight at the Prudential Center. The Devils improved to 10-3 in the shootout this season, earning ten points from those victories. It's three more than any other team in the league, and it's the difference between New Jersey holding a playoff spot and sitting outside the top eight in the conference.
"We have some confidence there (in the shootout)," Devils coach Pete DeBoer told Tom Gulitti of The Bergen Record. "We've dropped a couple lately, but overall you can't complain. It's been a big part of our record and we just have a confidence when we get in there that our goaltenders are going to make saves and that we can score some goals."
The Devils win vaulted them one point ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference standings.
The two teams went to a shootout after a video review overturned a goal from Ryan Getzlaf 1:10 into the overtime period. Lucas Sbisa sent a pass toward Getzlaf, who was crashing the crease. He appeared to turn his skate and thrust it forward, making a kicking motion and sending the puck in the net. While the league took the time to review the goal in Toronto, Brodeur stayed in his crease. The Devils' goalie said he was sure it wasn't a goal.
"I had no doubt in my mind he kicked it," Brodeur told Gulitti. "When we saw it on the replay, it was even more obvious, but with the NHL you've just got to wait. You never know what kind of angles they see and what they judge, but, to me, I could see that he kind of gave it a little heel kick to move the puck towards the net. Because if he doesn't do that, it might have just stayed on his (skate) blade there."
"He (Anton Volchenkov) tied my stick up and I was just going to the net," Getzlaf told Eric Stephens of The Orange County Register. "It was like I was just stopping and it went off my skate and went in. They obviously saw it differently."
Sheldon Brookbank tied the game, 2-2, with 2:12 remaining in regulation to force overtime. The former Devil took a pass in the slot and fired a shot past Martin Brodeur for his first goal of the season. The score broke a 166 game goal drought.
New Jersey jumped out to a 2-0 lead, scoring both goals in the second period. Adam Henrique scored the game's first goal just 1:25 into the second period, beating Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin to a loose puck in the crease. The rookie slid the puck past Jonas Hiller for his 15th goal of the season.
Alexei Ponikarovsky extended the lead to two at 10:56 of the middle frame. Ducks defenseman Lucas Sbisa lost the puck to Dainius Zubrus, who fed a wide open Ponikarovsky at the front of the net. His quick shot deflected off of Hiller's right arm for Ponikarovsky's 10th goal of the season.
Corey Perry cut the deficit to 2-1 with 3:52 left in the second period. Ryan Perry sent a slap shot on Brodeur that the goalie stopped with the right pad. Perry snuck in behind the defense and backhanded a puck past the Devils goalie for his 29th goal of the season.
Brodeur stopped 36 shots in the win. Hiller made 25 saves in the loss.
The Devils improved to 7-1-1 since the All-Star break. But with just 23 regulation wins this season, and shootout wins not counting as a playoff tiebreaker, they know wins in regulation need to happen more often. DeBoer was just happy the team found a way to get two points from tonight's game.
"it was a big win," he told Gulitti. "Obviously, we would have liked to have done it in regulation, but because it's a Western Conference team it doesn't matter how. We needed to win. It wasn't our best game, but we found a way and that's critical this time of year."