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N.J. Devils vs. St. Louis Blues preview: Can Devils solidify playoff spot?

devilslogo_optBY SAM HITCHCOCK
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
COMMENTARY

The Devils’ five-game winning streak reminds me of a “Curb Your Enthusiasm” episode where Larry David is having his typically predictable bad luck, but when standing on a street corner he avoids getting showered by a puddle from a car passing by and instead the man next to him gets drenched. Weirdly, this signified to Larry that possibly his luck was about to change, and it does. Every inconvenience and problem that he had created for himself, or which unluckily had fallen into his lap, gets resolved with a string of wonderfully fortunate events.

I’m not sure what was the event that started their string of good fortune –possibly it was the puck off the stanchion that Clarkson then converted into a goal to tie the Devils-Rangers game on January 31st (a game they then won in overtime) -- but a quarter has truly landed on its side for New Jersey.

The NHL is so competitive that most playoff teams will need a stretch of luck to help them through the grinding schedule. The Devils’ recent string of wins has certainly evidenced this. Last Thursday, against the Montreal Canadiens, Zubrus interfered with and obstructed Montreal defenseman Tomas Kaberle enough to give linemate Ponikarovsky the room to roll out of the corner and shoot. Zubrus then dropped behind Kaberle and deflected the shot for a goal to tie the game at 3-3. While this was a big momentum shift, it was small potatoes in the bigger picture, as the Canadiens could have had ten goals at least had Brodeur not amazingly saved them all.

In the Flyers game last Saturday, Brodeur made a huge save early in the first period on Claude Giroux, and then the Flyers got called for two consecutive penalties, giving the Devils a five-on-three which Foster capitalized on to put the team up 1-0.

Kovalchuk’s shorthanded goal came off of Zubrus cutting down Giroux at the point, which created a 2-on-1 that Kovie ripped past Sergei Bobrovsky to give the Devils a two-goal lead.

Then, Zubrus scored a buzzer-beater with 0.3 seconds remaining in the first period! The referees proceeded to give Scott Hartnell a penalty to begin the second for a high stick, although the infraction likely happened before Zubrus scored, meaning it should have been wiped away following Zubrus’ goal.

Hartnell’s penalty to begin the second period led to Parise scoring to put the Devils up 4-0 (a lead that would grow to 6-0 by the end of the second period). New Jersey then avoided an historic collapse, conceding four goals in less than ten minutes in the third period, but holding on to the victory.

In the Penguins game, Kovie and Zubrus switched places, with Kovie the perpetrator as he manhandled former Devils’ defenseman Paul Martin to win the puck and drive hard to the net.



 

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