Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) – Travis Zajac’s second goal of the game, a power play tally in the final minute of overtime, lifted the New Jersey Devils to a 3-2 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers at Philips Arena.
Ilya Kovalchuk also scored on the man advantage for the Devils, who continued their playoff push with their fifth victory in the last six games. Martin Brodeur made 24 saves, including four in the extra period, when New Jersey killed off a Thrashers power play.
“We’re pretty far out still, but I think we’ve come a long way,” Brodeur said. “We just take it game by game right now. Take it step by step, and hopefully we get to that point or game where it’s doable.”
Blake Wheeler and Dustin Byfuglien lit the lamp for Atlanta, which had won its last two games. Ondrej Pavelec turned aside 27 shots.
“It’s good we got a point, but if you want to make the playoffs, you have to win those games,” Pavelec said.
At the 1:34 mark of overtime, New Jersey’s Mark Fayne was called for tripping, but the Devils held on for two minutes while Atlanta tried to take advantage of the extra attacker.
The Thrashers’ Evander Kane was then whistled for tripping with 1:06 to play, and New Jersey cashed in.
Kovalchuk set up the goal with a pass through the slot to Patrik Elias at the bottom of the right circle. Elias stopped the puck with his skate in order to send a quick cross-ice pass to Zajac.
Zajac didn’t get much of a shot off, as the disc hit his stick blade and bounced toward the open net. But the puck had enough distance and speed to drift across the goal line with 43 seconds left, before Pavelec could shift over.
Wheeler opened the scoring at 10:14 of the second period, with a wrister from the right circle. Zajac answered during a 5-on-3 power play a little more than two minutes later, when he stuffed in a rebound from the left side.
Byfuglien put Atlanta back on top with a power-play point blast nearly five minutes into the third period. But an opportunistic Kovalchuk skated toward the net and deposited a wrister at 7:51.
New Jersey was 3-for-6 on the power play, while Atlanta went 1-for-4…Elias finished with two assists, as did the Thrashers’ Bryan Little…The Devils have allowed two goals or fewer in 15 consecutive games.