After seeing how poorly they could play, the New Jersey Devils put the pieces together in a positive fashion Sunday at the Nassau Coliseum and took a 3-0 decision from the New York Islanders, a club that had beaten them ( 5-4 overtime decision) at Prudential Center last week.
Thanks to Johan Hedberg, the Devils halted their losing streak at four games. Hedberg made 22 saves and held the Devils in the game through two scoreless periods.
New Jersey's offense finally converted in the second half of the third period with Steve Bernier netting two goals. David Clarkson had an empty-net goal.
Beyond Hedberg and Bernier, it was the Devils' penalty killing unit, one that had struggled of late, that turned the game around, stopping the Islanders on seven chances with the man advantage.
“A lot of little things win hockey games," Hedberg told Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. "There are the Xs and Os, but it’s going to come down to who can win the battle? Who wants it more? I think we felt a little desperate too after (Saturday’s 5-1) loss (to Pittsburgh). We really wanted this one bad and I think that showed in those situations, especially those penalty kills.”
“It definitely helped momentum-wise killing them,” center Stephen Gionta agreed. “It’s something we have to do when we get a penalty you have to bail your teammate out and I thought we did a pretty good job today of that.”
For Hedberg, it was his 22nd career shutout.
Bernier got the Devils on the scoreboard with a power-play goal with just 3:54 left in the third period and then added his second goal a little over a minute later. That's all that Hedberg needed after keeping the Devils in the game for so long.
“We’re going to have to have contributions from all kinds of different people,” Devils coach Pete DeBoer said of the efforts from his backup goalie and a third-line player. “It’s nice to be able to get the win.”
Evgeni Nabokov nearly matched Hedberg save for save, stopping 24 shots.
“He played well. Kept us in, especially in the second period when they gained some momentum,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano told reporters. “(New Jersey) came at us pretty hard. I thought both goalies played well. Nabby gave us a chance to win the game.”
Bernier's first goal came on the rebound of an Adam Henrique shot and his line's forechecking paid off on the second.
“We were buzzing around on the power play and we (shot) the puck and go for the rebound. That’s exactly what happened,” Bernier said. “On the second, our line (Gionta and Ryan Carter) did a great job on the forecheck. We were able to keep the puck in.
“I was trying to put the puck in the right places in front of Nabby where I (would) be able to get the rebound and the puck went in. It’s great. Obviously great work by everybody on the ice.”
And about time.
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