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Rookie Henrique lifts Devils past Jets 3-2 in OT

by Mike G. Morreale
NEWARK, N.J. -- There's just one thing New Jersey Devils captain Zach Parise has instilled in rookie linemate Adam Henrique during his first tour of duty in the NHL -- make the smart play with the puck.
"That's something we've been talking to him about," Parise said. "Don't just throw it away, but hang on to it and make the smart play. There's no need to get rid of the puck right away."
The 21-year-old center has certainly taken that advice to heart because not only has he been making smart plays, but scoring big goals as well.
On Saturday, Henrique scored twice, including the game-winner with 3:32 remaining in overtime, to give the Devils a 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets at Prudential Center. The offensive outburst comes just two days after the Brantford, Ont., native notched the first goal of his NHL career in a victory over the Flyers.
"It's nice to be able to contribute and I feel more and more confident every game playing with two great linemates," Henrique, the game's first star, said. "Anytime you get on the score sheet, it's a nice confidence boost. We need everyone going every night for us, but playing with two great linemates never hurts."
Henrique, who was on a line with Ilya Kovalchuk and Parise on Thursday in Philadelphia, centered Parise and David Clarkson on Saturday against the Jets. Kovalchuk was sidelined with a lower-body injury.
"When you play three games in four nights, you need the young fresh legs there, and he had a real burst tonight and we needed it," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "He's got the skills to do that and we ask an awful lot of him with the situation he's in and the minutes he plays. But he has the personality to handle it. He's not overwhelmed and that's a great attribute."
Henrique's winner came after taking a feed from Parise in the neutral zone and skating in on Jets goalie Ondrej Pavlelec before ripping a shot home with a defender closing in from behind.
"I just I got in there and knew once I looked up, what I wanted to do," Henrique said. "You can't overthink it or you might mess it up. Obviously, there are situations that put me in this position [with injuries to centers Travis Zajac and Jacob Josefson]. I just try to take advantage of that as much as possible. You don't get chances like this every day and I think when you come by them, you have to take advantage and show that you can play here."
Henrique has certainly done that. He logged 18:46 of ice time against the Jets on 27 shifts, delivered two hits and blocked two shots. The victory was also the first this season for Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, who turned aside 21 shots.
Despite missing four regular starters along their blue line, the Jets rallied from a 2-0 deficit with a pair of third-period goals. The equalizer came at 17:15 when Jim Slater ripped home his fifth of the season from the right circle faceoff dot. Winnipeg, which travels to Madison Square Garden to face the Rangers on Sunday, has taken seven of a possible 10 points during its seven-game road swing.
"You have to be happy that you're having a little bit of success and continue to get back in the games," Jets coach Claude Noel said. "We need production from some other guys, but right now we'll take the points as we can get them."
The Jets were without defensemen Tobias Enstrom (broken collarbone), Mark Stuart (upper body), Ron Hainsey (upper body) and Randy Jones (foot contusion) on Saturday. Pavelec made 25 saves, including all eight shots faced in the third, when the visitors mounted their comeback.
Brodeur's shutout bid ended 6:43 into the third when defenseman Mark Flood -- one of three players recalled from the Jets' American Hockey League affiliate in St. John's earlier this week -- scored his first NHL goal off a blast from the left circle.
The Devils opened a 2-0 lead 12:59 into the second when Henrique put the finishing touches on a splendid breakaway attempt after taking an outlet from Parise and lofting a backhander over a sprawling Pavelec. Just six seconds prior to his goal, Henrique stepped in front of a slap shot by Kenndal McArdle to begin the transition for Parise.
"He's got nice breakaway moves; it's not too often to get two breakaways in a game but you can tell the confidence he's gaining, especially after the goal he got in Philly," Parise said. "It's amazing what something like that could do for a player, and he's developing really well and very quickly."
Patrik Elias had given the Devils a 1-0 lead 4:08 into the second. After winning a defensive zone draw from Bryan Little, Elias fed Dainius Zubrus down his left wing. A defensive breakdown led to a 2-on-1 and Zubrus fed Elias in the slot. The Devils leading scorer then slammed home his sixth of the season, top shelf, on Pavelec. Elias, who needs six more goals to equal John MacLean for most (347) in Devils history, has at least one point in all but two games this season.
The veteran Elias said he already likes what he sees in Henrique.
"He young and adjusting his game and with more minutes as a centerman, he'll only get better," Elias told
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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