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Devils have found winning approach to overtime

by Mike G. Morreale

NEWARK, N.J. -- Winning in overtime is never a walk in the park.

Doing it in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is even more gut-wrenching, not only for fans but for coaches.

But the New Jersey Devils pretty much have this overtime stuff down to a science in the postseason this year. Maybe it's because during the regular season they had plenty of practice, going 4-2 in games decided in extra time and 12-4 in matches determined via a shootout.

"I think [head coach] Pete [DeBoer] has a good approach ... just go out there and do the simple things and go for the win," Devils center Patrik Elias said. "It's not that you sit back and make sure you don't make a mistake. It's trust yourself, go out there, and things will happen."

The Devils had the day off on Friday, but several players and DeBoer took part in a media conference call in the afternoon.

The Devils entered their fourth overtime in five playoff games on Thursday and won for the third time -- beating the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 to take a 2-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.


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The playoff overtime success is somewhat uncommon in these parts when you consider the team was 14-25 in such games entering the 2012 postseason.

"We're comfortable playing in overtime, we don't change anything," Devils captain Zach Parise said. "We try to stay aggressive and keep forechecking. We're comfortable and we like our game five-on-five. We think that if we can keep it five-on-five we'll do a good job controlling the play so, for whatever reason, we're doing pretty well in overtimes."

Devils goalie Martin Brodeur has stopped 27 of 28 shots in overtime during this year's playoffs, his only loss coming in Game 1 against the Flyers when Danny Briere connected 4:36 into the extra period.

"I think you try to stay the same any time and any situation in a hockey game," Brodeur said. "I know there's a lot more at stake when you get to OT ... one goal will decide the game. But you have to be yourself. But everything in OT is coming a little slower, because everyone is tired and no one wants to make that mistake, so mentally you need to be really sharp and look at what is going on around you, because that's how you'll be successful."

Brodeur's three overtime wins are the most for him in a single playoff year. He entered this year's playoffs with a 12-21 mark in overtime.

"The deeper you get into the playoffs, the intensity picks up even more, but in overtime everything kind of slows down, especially as you go deeper and deeper into overtime," Brodeur said.

Elias was then asked if having Brodeur as the last line of defense provides any more confidence entering overtime.

"It's tough to think about it," Elias said. "Every goalie in the playoffs is a solid goalie. It's tough to think about it during a game or during OT. You don't say, 'Oh, we have this guy behind us.' He's there for a reason, and we obviously trust and believe in him that if we do happen to make a mistake, he's there."

Both the Devils and Flyers generated six shots on goal during Thursday's overtime, but the Flyers could only muster one shot during two combined power plays.

"What I'm most proud of is I like the way we're playing together," Parise said. "We're getting a lot of good contributions from everybody, whether it winds up on the score sheet or not. Guys are playing well and our penalty kill has been good. Our power play is producing as well, so we're doing a lot of small things throughout the game that add up."

Parise feels it's all about generating shots when it comes to overtime.

"You want to get the puck below their red line and have a shot mentality," he said. "We've always said that in OT ... that no shot is a bad shot. So you want to get as many shots on net as you can."

During his post-game media scrum, Parise gave Devils fans something to think about.

"We've played a lot of overtime hockey this playoff and I'm sure there's going to be more," he said.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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