The New Jersey Devils were on the brink of dropping their fourth straight game when an innocent dump-in went their way. With 47.6 seconds left against the visiting New York Rangers, Andy Greene's dump-in off the back boards took a fortuitous carom straight to David Clarkson at the front of the net, who tied the game at 3-3, and the Devils ultimately prevailed in a shootout, 4-3. New Jersey has a remarkable (and league-leading) nine shootout victories on the season.
It's a bitter way for the Rangers to end a game -- the first for both teams since the All-Star break -- as they played extremely well with all the circumstances of not having played in six days, despite blowing three leads in the game. It was one game, but New Jersey showed it has the resiliency to continue to bounce back against what is still the Eastern Conference's top team -- with 67 points -- by one point. The Devils' win moves them to seventh place, one point ahead of Toronto.
The first period was actually unexpectedly quiet. Typically, one thinks of the divisional rival games as uptempo and full of energy. But the first was the total opposite. Both teams were strong defensively, limiting the opposition to very few second-chance opportunities. Anton Stralman, who played a very strong game defensively and offensively, was rewarded at 19:27 with his second goal of the year off a rebound from a Marian Gaborik shot.
New Jersey answered back about midway through the second period, however, when Zach Parise picked up his own rebound a roofed a shot over Martin Biron on his short side for a truly brilliant goal. For the second game in a row between these two teams, they'd go into the third period tied, 1-1.
Brian Boyle notched his fourth of the year after a Stu Bickel rebound rolled to him. He collected it and waited patiently as Martin Brodeur laid sprawled out on the ice trying to block any sort of angle for a shot. Ilya Kovalchuk, who was all over the ice in this one, notched an easy goal on a power-play rush point-blank blast after Ryan Callahan's offensive-zone giveaway.Thirty-six seconds later Michael Del Zotto answered right back, as Marian Gaborik fluttered a cross-ice back-hand pass to Del Zotto in the offensive zone. The jubilation would be short-lived with the lead lasting 3 minutes, 11 seconds after the crazy ricochet to Clarkson.
Kovalchuk was the only one to score in the shootout. Brodeur made 23 saves for his 15th win of the year, while Biron lost only his third game, making 26 saves.
New Jersey will get a day break before hosting the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, while New York travels to Buffalo for a clash on Wednesday.