Ilya Kovalchuk couldn't stay out of the goal column for long.
After going nine straight games without a goal, the Devils left wing has four in his last two games, pushing to become the first New Jersey skater to break the 30-goal mark.
He added three of those tonight, helping New Jersey defeat the New York Islanders, 5-1, at the Prudential Center. The win was the second straight for the Devils, who moved into a tie with the Philadelphia Flyers for fifth in the Eastern Conference standings.
New Jersey also evened the season series with the Islanders. New York previously led, 2-1, including a 1-0 shutout of the Devils on Sunday.
Kovalchuk scored his first goal of the night at the 8:07 mark of the first period, giving the Devils an early 1-0 lead. Zach Parise sent a pass to Kovalchuk in the right circle. The left wing one-timed the puck on Evgeni Nabakov, who made the initial save. Kovalchuk collected his own rebound and found the back of the net for his 27th goal of the season.
He doubled the lead with a powerplay tally at the 3:33 mark of the second period. With Steve Staios in the box for tripping, Patrik Elias passed the puck to Marek Zidlicky at the point. He fed Kovalchuk for a one-time shot from the point that beat Nabakov stick side.
The Islanders would draw within one later in the period. Andrew MacDonald scored his fourth goal of the season, shooting a puck from the goal line that hit Martin Brodeur and slipped by the goalie.
Brodeur stopped 29 shots in the win, earning his 48th career win over the Islanders.
A dominant third period, highlighted by Kovalchuk's hat trick tally, would seal the game for New Jersey.
Elias stretched the lead to 3-1 at the 7:05 mark of the final period. Ryan Carter sent a shot on net that Elias deflected into the net for his 23rd goal of the season.
Kovalchuk would complete the hat trick, putting New Jersey ahead 4-1 at the 8:09 mark of the third period. Adam Henrique won a loose puck along the corner boards, feeding it to Parise at the half boards. He sent a pass to Kovalchuk in the slot, who hammered the puck past Nabokov for his 29th goal of the season.
The Devils left-wing, who recorded a three-goal game February 14th against the Buffalo Sabres, became the first Devils since Elias during the 2001-02 season to record two hat tricks in a season.
David Clarkson ended the scoring, stretching New Jersey's lead to 5-1 with 4:01 remaining in regulation. The right wing stretched his career high to 27 goals.
Nabakov stopped 15 of 20 shots in the loss.
The two teams will face off again Saturday at Nassau Coliseum, playing for the third time this week.
Parise's assist on Kovalchuk's hat trick goal was his 400th career point...Zidlicky recorded his first points as a Devil...The Devils are in a stretch where they play five straight division games. They're 2-1-0 heading into Saturday's matchup with the Islanders.
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