PHILADELPHIA -- The last time Ilya Kovalchuk was held without a shot in a game was five months ago.
New Jersey Devils were able to overcome that stunning scenario, however, in a 2-1 overtime decision against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Nov. 23, 2011.
In Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal contest against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday, the Devils weren't able to seal the deal this time around in overtime. The Flyers scored a 4-3 victory in a game where Kovalchuk was held without a shot in 21:20 of ice time.
It has been rumored for much of the postseason that Kovalchuk has been playing with a lower-body injury. But the veteran forward has refused to make any excuses or elaborate on the subject. In fact, whenever the question is raised, he usually ends the interview.
When asked if he was healthy following Sunday's loss, Kovalchuk appeared rather aggravated.
"Yeah," he said before quickly exiting the locker room.
When reminded that he was held without a shot, Kovalchuk refused to elaborate.
"It's tough, but it's one game," he said. "Let's see what I can do better and do it next game."
Kovalchuk did generate two shots that missed the net, and was credited with one blocked shot on 23 shifts for the game.
"We can't start sitting back [after getting the first period lead]," Kovalchuk said. "We must play a full 60 minutes. We have to be more responsible in our own end and find a way to win the next game."
Kovalchuk didn't believe that fatigue played a factor in Sunday's loss. The Flyers had six days off since eliminating the Pittsburgh Penguins in the opening round on April 22. The Devils needed back-to-back overtime triumphs against the Florida Panthers -- Game 7 was Thursday.
"I don't think fatigue played into it," Kovalchuk said. "It's playoffs, so you have to find that extra gear and they were rested in first but we took advantage. We know how to play against those guys."
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