During his junior days, it was Taylor Hall and Cam Fowler with the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League. Now, it's NHL All-Stars Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk, and just as Henrique was part of a successful run in Windsor -- the Spitfires won back-to-back Memorial Cup championships -- he's starting to see another level of success now in the NHL.
Henrique, Parise and Kovalchuk combined for two goals and three assists as the Devils snapped a three-game losing streak with a 4-3 shootout victory against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday at Wells Fargo Center.
Parise and Patrik Elias scored for the New Jersey in the shootout, giving the Devils the victory in a game where they rallied from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits and put 39 shots on goal, including 21 in the second period.
"The second period, I'm not real happy with," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "We were slow to the puck, slow to support the puck, and I think turnovers played into it. The third period I thought was much more competitive from our guys. We went back and forth more and traded. New Jersey played a strong game. And I think I'll look back and it will probably be the second period that stands out to me."
Zac Rinaldo scored his first NHL goal for Philadelphia, and Maxime Talbot scored on a penalty shot as the Flyers had their two-game winning streak snapped. Claude Giroux also had a goal, but the star for the Flyers was goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who stopped 36 of 39 shots.
The win snapped a three-game losing streak for New Jersey, which came to Philadelphia after a disappointing 5-3 home loss to Toronto on Wednesday.
"That's the type of game we need to play," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "Lot of times in this League you get what you deserve and we deserved two points tonight."
Part of the reason they deserved it was because of the play of their top line.
"I thought they were outstanding tonight," DeBoer said. "They were clicking. Adam looked comfortable tonight, much more comfortable than (Wednesday). Kovy could have had two or three goals himself. Zach works so hard every night, it was important for him to get one, too. Guys are getting payoffs for their work right now."
The line debuted together Wednesday against the Leafs, but nothing was working for the Devils in that one. Twenty-four hours later, things were running far more smoothly.
Rinaldo scored his first NHL goal just 2:28 into the second period. Giroux made it 2-0 at 8:08 when he slammed home a hard pass from Jaromir Jagr, who skated all through the New Jersey end before whipping a cross-ice feed to Giroux.
That's when New Jersey's top trio started making a difference.
Parise started the comeback just 51 seconds after Giroux scored, getting a fortunate bounce when the Flyers failed on a pair of clearing attempts. Henrique got the loose puck, pushed it through Philadelphia's Wayne Simmonds to Parise in the slot. He had to stretch and made what he called a "backhand slapper" that squeezed through Bobrovsky's pads.
Less than three minutes later, Andreas Lilja gave the puck away to Kovalchuk for a 2-on-1 break that Henrique finished for his first NHL goal and a 2-2 tie.
"It was a quick 2-on-1, I just tried to get to the net," Henrique said. "I knew the puck could be coming over any moment. Just squeaked it in there."
Henrique is in an enviable and very difficult position. Playing between Kovalchuk and Parise -- who've combined for 539 goals -- is a challenge for any center, especially a 21-year-old second-year professional with nine games of NHL experience.
"Two years ago if you told me I'd be centering these two guys," Henrique said, "I don't know if I would have believed you."
Parise said he and Kovalchuk have tried to make it as easy as possible in Henrique.
"He's a good player," Parise aid. "You can tell he's patient with the puck, he makes good plays. Most importantly, Kovy and I tell him to relax and make the good play. Don't feel obligated to pass to either one of us, just make the smart play and he's done that."
Henrique said he's felt comfortable in his two games with his new linemates.
"It might be a little intimidating at first … obviously they've had great careers so far," he said. "I feel lucky enough to be part of it now. … I take it as a great opportunity. Hopefully we can keep our chemistry going."
That now depends on Kovalchuk, who left the game with 1:35 left in the third period and sat out all of overtime and the shootout.
After the game, DeBoer said Kovalchuk had a lower-body injury and was day-to-day. Kovalchuk later told reporters he pulled a muscle in his leg.
"We’ll see how it goes (Friday) and, hopefully, we’ll go day by day," said Kovalchuk. The Devils don't play again until Saturday when the Winnipeg Jets come to Newark.
If Kovalchuk is able to play, expect to see Henrique and Parise alongside him.
The Flyers went ahead 2:37 into the third on Talbot's penalty-shot goal. He blocked a shot, chased down the loose puck for a breakaway and was hauled down by New Jersey's Mark Fayne. The penalty-shot was the second of Talbot's career -- both against New Jersey's Johan Hedberg -- and found space under the goalie's leg to make it 3-2.
The lead lasted until 13:25, when Elias intercepted a Matt Carle clearing attempt and found Clarkson alone in front of the Philadelphia net.
Philadelphia had 18 giveaways in the game, seven in the second period alone.
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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