NEWARK, N.J. – Ilya Kovalchuk, the NHL’s scoring leader in shootouts, gave the New Jersey Devils an edge and Martin Brodeur took care of the rest.
Kovalchuk and Zach Parise scored in the shootout to give the Devils a 1-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night. After the first two shooters for the Devils connected, Brodeur sealed the win with stops on Milan Hejduk and Peter Mueller.
As usual, Kovalchuk went first for the Devils and scored, improving to 10 for 12 in the shootout this season.
“Kovy goes in there and gets that first goal, it’s kind of a luxury,” Brodeur said. “Then it’s in my hands after that. It gives us a really good chance to win.”
New Jersey picked up its league-leading 11th shootout win, ending Colorado’s three-game winning streak. The Avalanche are 9-2 in shootouts.
It was a night that belonged to the goaltenders. Brodeur, the league’s all-time victories leader, picked up his 118th shutout. John-Sebastien Giguere got his 36th at the other end.
Brodeur made 28 stops through overtime, while Giguere had 33 saves for Colorado.
The Devils, 5-1 in their last six games, bounced back from a 3-0 loss in Philadelphia on Tuesday. Thanks to Brodeur, they managed a win despite being shut out again.
“We found a way to get a win,” said Devils coach Peter DeBoer. “I don’t compare this to the Philly game. We created opportunities to score tonight. They just didn’t go in.”
The Devils squared the season series at 1-1 in the teams’ second and final meeting, avenging one of the worst losses of the year, 6-1 in Denver in November.
“We’re a different team now than when we played them the first time,” Brodeur said. “It’s always in the back of your mind when you killed in a game like that. It was nice to come back and win against a good team. We had to play pretty good and Giguere had to make a lot of good saves, especially in the third.”
The Avalanche picked up a valuable point in their battle to hold a playoff spot in the Western Conference. They started the night in eighth place, only two points ahead of San Jose, Calgary and Los Angeles. Colorado has won five of its last seven.
Colorado outshot New Jersey 8-5 in the scoreless first period as the Avalanche showed good zip despite needing a shootout to pull out a 5-4 win in Buffalo the night before.
“Marty played a good game and made some key saves tonight,” Giguere said. “I thought we did a good job of putting pucks on net and making it hard on him. It was difficult to play back-to-back games.”
Jay McClement had Colorado’s best chance about 5 minutes in, only to be denied by Brodeur’s sharp glove save.
The opportunities were even in the second period as the scoreless deadlock continued. The Devils held a 12-11 edge in shots and both teams missed out on close-in opportunities. Brodeur made a pad stop on Hejduk, and at the other end Jacob Josefson could not steer a wraparound try past Giguere.
New Jersey had the better pressure early in the third as Giguere made big stops on backhand bids from Alexei Ponikarovsky and Adam Henrique.
Jamie McGinn had a late chance for the Avalanche that Brodeur swatted aside with the blocker. David Clarkson tried to jam one in for the Devils in a goal-mouth scramble.
The Devils wound up with a 15-7 edge in third-period shots as the Avalanche were barely holding on at the end.
Each team had a golden chance in overtime. Brodeur made a chest stop on Matt Hunwick’s drive from the left circle and Giguere kicked out a dead-on try by Kovalchuk.
“It could have gone either way,” Giguere said. “It was a good game. Give Marty credit for a good game but we have no reason to put our heads down.”
NOTES: This was the fourth straight game for Colorado decided in overtime or a shootout. … The Devils had two healthy scratches: RW Cam Janssen and D Matt Taormina. … The Avalanche scratched RW Chuck Kobasew (back injury), LW Mike Connolly, C Kevin Porter, and Ds Tyson Barrie and Stefan Elliott. … C Matt Duchene returned for the Avalanche after missing four games with an ankle injury. … Devils D Anton Volchenkov body-checked Ryan Wilson into the Devils bench midway through the third period.