Devils Win and Cut Playoff Gap to Two Points
The New Jersey Devils went into Philadelphia Tuesday night for a potentially playoff-altering showdown with the Flyers. The Devils skated into the arena four points back of Philly and skated off with a deficit of two points in the divisional playoff race, and are also now two behind Detroit in the wild card playoff race. It was a tough, hard-fought game, with a playoff-type atmosphere, as the Devils showed that they had no intention of backing down.
Adam Henrique may be the Devils’ hottest player of late, but it was Jaromir Jagr, their best player throughout this season, that helped guide the Devils to victory Tuesday night. Jagr produced on the only two goals of the game, assisting on the first goal with a great pass to Travis Zajac in front of the net (Zajac finished it off with a wonderfully patient move to beat Flyers goalie Steve Mason). Jagr scored the game-winning goal almost mid-way through the third period, increasing his totals to 21 goals and 36 assists on the season. That was Jagr’s 124th game-winning goal of his NHL career and goal number 702, putting him just six behind Mike Gartner for sixth all time in the NHL. Jagr is now also within 10 points of Steve Yzerman for sixth on the all-time NHL points list with 1,745.
Devils’ goalie Martin Brodeur was excellent tonight in the net, allowing just the one goal on 31 shots. The man who was nearly traded just one week ago had a spectacular night on his way to earning his 50th all-time victory against the Flyers. Brodeur made key saves throughout the whole game and aided in keeping the Flyers goalless on their six power plays, though the netminder got a little help late from the refs. When the Flyers attacked late in the game and had seemingly put one in the net, replay determined that it was not a “good hockey goal;” the way Brodeur was hit in the net made it appear that the refs got the call right — despite the contempt hurled by the unhappy Flyers crowd.
The Devils’ victory over Philly was the team’s 40th one- goal game of its (so far) 66-game season. There’s no surprise about how the Devils play, but what was before a liability sure has been effective for them lately. The Devils have two days to rest before embarking on a Florida road trip Friday and Saturday, taking on the Panthers and the Lightning, before returning to play six of their final seven March games at home. This is a wonderful opportunity for the Devils to build on their momentum.
Who knows? By the end of the weekend, the hard-working Devils could be in a playoff spot.