The New Jersey Devils (26-30-4) are making the impossible a reality.
New Jersey defeated the Dallas Stars (31-23-6), 1-0, tonight at the American Airlines Center to move within nine points of the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The win gave the Devils eight in a row. It's their longest win streak since October 29 to November 14 of 2009.
Rookie Nick Palmieri scored the lone goal - and game winner - with 5:37 left in the third period. With the Devils on the powerplay, Mark Fayne sent a pass cross-ice to Ilya Kovalchuk. The left-winger broke his stick on a shot, sending a dribbler toward the net. Palmieri deflected the bouncing puck past Kari Lehtonen for his sixth goal of the season.
"Probably my biggest goal to date, I'd have to say," Palmieri told Rich Chere of The Star-Ledger.
With an assist on the game-winning goal, Kovalchuk stretched his point streak to 11 games. It's the longest streak of his career.
The win pushed the Devils closer to the .500 mark. The last time New Jersey sat four games under .500 was prior to their 5-2 loss against the San Jose Sharks on October 27.
The Stars outplayed the Devils throughout the first two periods, racking up several quality scoring chances. But Johan Hedberg stood tall, stopping each attempt. But it would be Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov who would make the most important save.
With 2:32 seconds left in the second period, Hedberg came out of his crease to make a save. Brian Sutherby collected the rebound, and looked to have an open net. Volchenkov shut down the opportunity, sliding into the open netmouth and using his hand and the paddle of Hedberg's stick to stop the shot.
"It hit his stick but I pushed it forward," Volchenkov told Chere. "Great save by me."
Hedberg continued his personal hot streak. In the past three games, he's allowed one goal on 60 shots. He's also won his last seven starts.
With the win and Carolina's 4-3 shootout loss to the Rangers, the Devils sit just nine points back. New Jersey has 20 games left and a game in hand on the Canes.
This was the first time Jamie Langenbrunner faced the Devils since being traded to Dallas on January 7. He had only two shots in the game...Newly-acquired defenseman Alex Goligoski played tonight for the Stars. He was acquired from the Penguins...Adam Mair needed eight stitches to close a cut below his right eye. Stars center Tomas Vincour high-sticked him in the first period, but no penalty was called...Martin Brodeur served as a backup for the second straight game...The Devils ended a four-game losing streak at the American Airlines Center.
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