Zach Parise's power-play goal 1:06 into overtime gave the Devils a 2-1 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night, New Jersey's 11th win in 13 games decided after 60 minutes.
Corey Potter was called for an offensive-zone tripping penalty with 36 seconds left in regulation, and during the 4-on-3 power play in overtime, Patrik Elias took the rebound of Ilya Kovalchuk's shot in the lower right circle and slid it across the crease, where Parise jammed it past Nikolai Khabibulin for his 15th goal of the season -- and his eighth point during a five-game scoring streak.
"There's a little more room out there," Parise said of the 4-on-3 advantage in OT. "I think sometimes you keep it a little more simple -- you don’t look for the cute backdoor plays. You make the one play to try to get the shot, like Kovy did.
"Patty made an unbelievable fake and found me wide-open."
New Jersey is 3-1 in games decided in overtime and 8-1 in shootouts. The Devils are just 13-17 in games that end in the regulation 60 minutes.
"I think it was a gutsy effort by us," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "I think that was our sixth game in 10 days."
Johan Hedberg stopped 22 shots and improved to 7-1-0 lifetime against Edmonton as the Devils rebounded from a 6-3 loss in Calgary on Tuesday in which they surrendered all six goals on just 14 shots -- including four by Hedberg on just nine shots in relief of Martin Brodeur.
"I had a good feeling coming in," Hedberg said. "It was a fun game to play -- more fun than last night."
Khabibulin made 23 saves for the Oilers, who were playing their first home game since Dec. 22 after a seven-game trip necessitated by the World Junior Championship -- and were missing their top two scorers, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, due to injuries. Edmonton lost its fourth in a row and seventh in eight games.
"It was positive," Hemsky said of his team's effort, "but we still have to find a way to win some games."
Added coach Tom Renney: "You're not going to do cartwheels when you get a point. You're here to get two."
New Jersey grabbed a 1-0 lead on Ilya Kovalchuk's shorthanded goal 8:35 into the second period. But the Oilers solved the NHL's best penalty-killing unit on their fifth opportunity 8:32 into the third period when Ales Hemsky teed up a slapper from the top of the left circle and blew it past Hedberg, who had Oilers forward Ryan Smyth making life miserable for him in front of the crease. It was Edmonton's first shot on goal of the period.
"I should have seen it," Hedberg said. "He's good at that -- I have to give Smyth credit. I should have expected [Hemsky] to put it where he did put it."
Hedberg preserved the tie with less than four minutes to play when he denied Ryan Jones' breakaway backhander. On the return rush, Khabibulin came up big by denying Parise from just outside the left post. The Oilers dominated the final minutes before Potter's needless penalty led to the winning goal.
"Corey's been very good for us," Renney said, "but that was an untimely penalty. Hopefully everybody learns from it."
After a scoreless first period, the NHL's most dangerous penalty-killing unit opened the scoring midway through the second. Kovalchuk knocked down a pass by Jeff Petry at the right point, outraced the young defenseman into the Oilers' zone and snapped a shot from below the hash marks past Khabibulin for his fifth goal if four games, his 17th of the season -- and the Devils' NHL-best 11th shorthanded goal. New Jersey's penalty-killers have scored only four fewer goals than they've allowed and have produced a shorthanded goal in each of the last four games.
"We have a little cockiness to our penalty kill right now," said Parise, who has three shorthanded goals of his own. "We have a comfort with our penalty kill that they're going to kill it off."
The Devils nearly made it 2-0 with three minutes to play in the middle period when Petr Sykora tipped Dainius Zubrus' pass through Khabibulin's pads -- only to have the goaltender get his glove on the puck before it could slither over the goal line. Hedberg came up big in the final minute when he denied Taylor Hall, who was sent in alone in the left circle by Hemsky during the Oilers' third power play of the period.
The Devils gave the Oilers another power play 2:20 into the third when Ryan Carter knocked the stick out of Sam Gagner's hands to earn an interference call. But the Oilers again did nothing -- and the power play lasted only 47 seconds before Smyth was called for goaltender interference.
The Oilers dominated play for several shifts after play returned to 5-on-5, but were unable to get anything on the net -- Hemsky and Gagner both found themselves alone in front of Hedberg but fired wide. However, the Devils' fifth penalty of the game, a tripping call against Patrik Elias at 8:23, led to Hemsky's tying goal nine seconds later.
"I really liked our third period, how we didn't quit," Hall said. "It was a good effort."
The first period ended without a goal -- a big change from Tuesday night for the Devils, who trailed 4-0 after the first 20 minutes in Calgary 24 hours earlier. Hall had the best chance to score when he went in on a breakaway midway through the period, but Hedberg stopped his backhander for the best of his nine saves. New Jersey managed only four shots.
"Heddy kept us in there in the first period," Elias said. "In the second I thought we were much better, and in the third I thought we created some good opportunities and they created some opportunities. Obviously, we'll take the win."
The Oilers' lineup included rookie Milan Kytnar, who was called up from Stockton of the ECHL to fill in when another recent recall, Ryan O'Marra, came down with an illness. The Oilers were unable to get anyone from their AHL team in Oklahoma City, but were able to get Kytnar to Rexall Place just in time for the game -- he arrived about three minutes before warmups. Kytnar, Edmonton's fifth pick in the 2007 NHL Draft, had a shot on goal and two takeaways in 5:31 of ice time in his NHL debut.
"An opportunity like this never crossed my mind, but it felt good out there," he said. "I had a lot of fun."
The youngster, who will rejoin the Thunder on Thursday in Anchorage, Alaska, is leaving with some kind words from his coach.
"I thought he was a really responsible two-way guy tonight," Renney said. "Good on him."
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