The New Jersey Devils can only hope the Washington Capitals are similarly gracious hosts on Saturday.
Playing the first of two games in three days at Verizon Center, the Devils defeated the Capitals 3-2 Thursday on a third-period power-play goal by Ilya Kovalchuk. The goal with 8:20 remaining came during a 5-on-3 advantage and capped a stretch in which the Capitals took five consecutive minor penalties after entering the third period with a 2-1 lead.
"We drew something up, and a great player found a way to make a great play," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said.
Kovalchuk took a pass from Patrik Elias in the high slot and while falling to a knee, ripped a shot past Capitals goalie Braden Holtby.
"It was a nice play," Kovalchuk said "What we want to do is skate around and change places. Patty made a great pass and I shot it."
The teams play again in Washington on Saturday afternoon, a rare regular-season occurrence in the schedule.
"Less travel for us; we'll take it," Elias said after the Devils ended a two-game losing streak.
"You don't want to keep sliding," he said. "You’re going to go through times when the team game is not there, but you've just got to find a way. By no means was it a perfect game by us today. We did some good things but we did some bad things, too, so we're really happy with the two points."
The Capitals (5-10-1) have lost two in a row after a three-game winning streak.
"The atmosphere tonight was pretty intense. I think the guys will expect the same thing when it comes to Saturday," said Capitals coach Adam Oates, an assistant with the Devils last season. "In terms of mistakes, we try to address the mistakes every night. You don't want mistakes. …
"In the start of the third period you have a lead, and then you give them two 5-on-3s in one period. Obviously that's too much."
Andrei Loktionov scored his first goal for the Devils at 9:19 of the third to tie the game 2-2. Following a series of failed power plays, including a 5-on-3 for 1:46, Loktionov pushed a loose puck past Holtby.
"Huge, great timing," Elias said. "Just a good shot on the pads and a good rebound there."
Loktionov was acquired from the Los Angeles Kings in a trade Feb. 6.
"He's played well," Elias said. "You look at him, with the ice time that he gets, you can see he's talented."
Mike Ribeiro gave the Capitals a 2-1 lead with a power-play goal at 12:40 of the second period. He gathered a loose puck between the circles, and while moving backward, moved it from his skate to his stick and flicked a shot past Martin Brodeur.
Earlier in that power play, Elias scored shorthanded for the Devils. Adam Henrique stole the puck from Washington defenseman John Carlson behind the Capitals net and passed to Elias. He returned the puck to Henrique, who came out from behind the net and slipped a pass back to Elias. The leading scorer in the history of the Devils' franchise directed it in at the right post at 11:16.
"It was one of those nights, we had to stay with it and obviously, in the third [period], we got the opportunities on the power play," Elias said.
Washington scored first on a power play at 9:28 of the second period. Troy Brouwer carried from his blue line into the Devils zone, where he avoided defenseman Henrik Tallinder. Brouwer's shot was stopped by Brodeur, but Mathieu Perreault slapped the rebound into the net.
Holtby made 34 saves and the Capitals blocked 18 shots. Brodeur had to stop just 17 shots for career win No. 664.
Material from team media was used in this report