NEWARK, N.J. – Rookie Adam Henrique has little experience with shootouts, so when the New Jersey Devils centre was picked against the Ottawa Senators, he tried to use a mental approach.
“You can’t go in there thinking, ‘I’m going in the same spot,'” said Henrique, whose backhand past Alex Auld gave the Devils a 5-4 victory on Thursday night.
Henrique’s approach worked as the Devils rallied from a 3-0 hole, squandered a one-goal lead in the closing seconds of regulation, but pulled out the win in the tiebreaker.
“I’ve had a little game with (Devils goalie Johan Hedberg) in practice where we work on shootouts,” said Henrique, who has been in only two shootouts. “I try to change it up each time I try. I figured I can do it in practice, then I can do it in the game.
“It was a huge win for us.”
With the Devils seemingly headed to the win, Ottawa’s Jesse Winchester tied it with just five seconds left with a short-handed goal after Auld was pulled for an extra attacker.
Zach Parise and Patrik Elias also scored for the Devils in the shootout, and Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson matched them for Ottawa.
Henrique put the Devils on top with his goal, and Hedberg—who replaced Martin Brodeur to start the second period—stopped David Rundblad to win it.
“He came in on me and I knew that he was a player with great skills,” Hedberg said. “I just had to be patient and wait for him to make the move, see if I could outwit him.”
Matias Tedenby and Ilya Kovalchuk scored third-period goals 37 seconds apart to give the Devils a 4-3 lead.
Trailing 3-1 entering the third period, the Devils cut the lead further on a short-handed goal by Dainius Zubrus. Then they scored two straight even-strength goals within a minute.
Tedenby scored his first goal of the season on a deflection off his chest on a shot by David Clarkson. Kovalchuk added his eighth goal off a fine setup from Henrique, who had two assists.
The Devils had lost four of five.
“It shows that we have a lot of character,” Kovalchuk said. “It shows that we’ll never give up, and that’s a good sign for a young team. Henrique set me up nice on that goal and it’s why I’m here. It’s what I should do.”
Parise got the Devils’ first goal, also short-handed, cutting the Ottawa lead to 3-1.
“They were huge momentum swings in our favour,” Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. “Down 3-0, the game can go one of two ways. We can either get blown out of the water or find a way to scrap back into it.
“When you’re in a 3-0 hole, it’s time for a gut check.”
Milan Michalek scored his 18th of the season in the first period to take the overall lead in NHL. Nick Foligno also scored in the first period and Alfredsson scored in the second period, the first power-play goal the Devils allowed at home all season.
DeBoer lifted Brodeur, who stopped seven of nine shots, after the first period.
“It was a message to everybody,” DeBoer said. “We were off to a poor start, and a coach only has a few ways to get a team’s attention. Marty had to pay the price tonight.”
The Devils seemed to slice the lead in half in the opening minutes of the second when Petr Sykora fired a shot past Auld. However, the goal was disallowed because Tedenby was whistled for holding before Sykora scored.
NOTES: Devils D Andy Greene will miss four weeks with a non-displaced toe fracture. Greene had no goals and nine assists in 23 games this season. … Alfredsson’s second-period goal snapped New Jersey’s streak of 40 straight penalty kills at home in 11 games. It was the longest streak in franchise history. … Devils C Travis Zajac has resumed skating after undergoing surgery for a torn Achilles tendon in August, but there is no timetable for his return. The team hopes he can return before Christmas.