NEWARK, N.J. -- The Devils are streaking. Look out.
Ilya Kovalchuk scored the lone goal in a shootout Wednesday night at Prudential Center with a hard shot over Calgary goalie Henrik Karlsson's catching glove to give New Jersey a 2-1 win over the slumping Flames. It's the Devils' second win in as many games, which gives them their first two-game winning streak of the season.
The Devils also beat Washington 5-0 on Monday, and judging by what's been happening on Long Island, they have a good chance to make it three in a row when the face the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum on Friday. The Islanders lost in overtime Wednesday, extending their losing streak to 14 games.
"We know what our record is and we hadn't won two in a row, and to get the shootout win means you get two in a row," Devils coach John MacLean said. "It's something to build on."
Johan Hedberg, who made 30 saves to blank the Capitals, was good on 25 of 26 shots Wednesday. His personal shutout streak was snapped at 108:01 when Rene Bourque scored Calgary's goal early in the third period, but the Devils allowed only six more shots the rest of the night and Hedberg stopped all of them.
Hedberg stopped Niklas Hagman, Alex Tanguay and Brendan Morrison during the shootout. He appears to be finding his rhythm in the absence of Martin Brodeur, who is still sidelined with a bruised elbow.
"He's the hardest-working guy I have ever seen in my life," Kovalchuk said of his former Atlanta teammate. "He shows up everyday and he deserves this chance. It's bad Marty got hurt but Moose, he got his chance and he's playing unbelievable right now. He's giving us a lot of confidence."
Calgary coach Brent Sutter was pleased despite the loss because the Flames played a strong road game. They allowed only 15 shots in regulation, and had it not been for Mark Giordano's penalty 44 seconds into overtime the Devils probably wouldn't have had six shots in the five-minute extra session.
However, Calgary still couldn't pick up two points, a feat it hasn't accomplished since a 7-2 win over Chicago four games ago. The Flames are just 2-8-2 over their last 12 and scored only two goals in two games in the New York metropolitan area -- they lost 2-1 to the Rangers on Monday.
"Would we like to score more? Absolutely, but you look at your overall game and we played decently," Sutter said. "We have to keep pushing, put more pucks to the net and be there. Two games ago we scored four goals and the game before that we scored seven, so it's not like we can't score."
MacLean said he didn't hesitate to call Kovalchuk's number first in the shootout, and Kovalchuk wasted no time. Instead of taking the puck wide, as he sometimes does, he went hard and fast straight down the center and rifled a shot over Karlsson's glove.
Kovalchuk said he went high glove because that's what Karlsson offered him, but the goalie said he knew that's where Kovalchuk was going to shoot. He simply couldn't stop the shot.
"I was pretty sure he was going to shoot there and it felt like it went through my shoulder and my glove," Karlsson told NHL.com. "It was a great shot by him. I wasn't stoned by it. It was a good shot."
It wasn't a terribly exciting, up-and-down game, but the Devils' patience had MacLean smiling.
"Sometimes you have to stay with it, you have to stay with the plan," he said. "Some shifts you go out there and maybe nothing will happen, but you have to keep going. That's how we're going to win right now, to be prepared to play that game for 60 minutes, and eventually the bounces will start coming, the opportunities will start coming and we'll start burying them more. That's how you have to build momentum."
Even after Bourque scored to make it 1-1 just 68 seconds into the third period, New Jersey did not stray from its game plan. While it managed only three shots in the third period and zero in the final 13:52, the Flames had only three shots after Bourque scored. They didn't get another shot after Bourque's goal for the next 12:43.
"It's a pressure point there and you have to stop it right away," Hedberg said. "It's east against west, we don't care if they get a point as long as we get two. It felt like they were protecting in the third and didn't really want to give up anything."
Calgary, though, had a great opportunity with 7:22 left in regulation when the Devils were called for a too many men on the ice penalty. Anton Volchenkov played the puck in front of the Devils bench before Henrik Tallinder got off the ice.
However, the Flames managed only one shot as the Devils successfully killed off their third and final penalty of the night.
Calgary gave New Jersey a 4-on-3 opportunity in overtime when Giordano was called for interference on Jason Arnott. He got in the way of Arnott's path to the net while Colin White was firing a slap shot on the opposite side.
The Devils managed three shots, but Karlsson stopped them all. He also came up with a terrific right pad save on Patrik Elias with 1:31 left in overtime, but he just couldn't stop Kovalchuk in the shootout.
"We're trying to get our confidence back, and it was really shattered early in the year here," Hedberg said. "We need this. More than anything the way we feel about the way we're playing is the most important thing, and we're getting rewarded. If we can keep this work ethic up we'll be in good shape."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
|David Clarkson (4) ASST: Mattias Tedenby (3), Matthew Corrente (4)|
1 - 0 NJD
|Rene Bourque (10) ASST: Mark Giordano (7), Curtis Glencross (4)|
1 - 1 Tie
|1||N. Hagman||I. Kovalchuk||0 - 1|
|2||A. Tanguay||M. Tedenby||0 - 1|
|3||B. Morrison||0 - 1|
|Brendan Morrison Tripping against Anton Volchenkov|
|Brian Rolston Slashing against Olli Jokinen|
|Rene Bourque Holding against Anton Volchenkov|
|Dainius Zubrus Tripping against Niklas Hagman|
|Ilya Kovalchuk Too many men on the ice|
|Mark Giordano Interference against Jason Arnott|