A win is also the main goal, but when playing up against your division rivals, the games become more important – especially when positioning within the division changes daily.
Frustration sets in, and the Devils are taking a great deal of penalties. Even Devils Play-by-Play announcer “Doc” made mention of the fact that this season the Devils have taken more penalties, and it’s simply unlike them.
Two of the penalties the Devils took led to Power Play goals by the Pittsburgh Penguins. And the Devils were having a tough time offensively. In fact, Doc said at one point during the second period that the Devils had their best scoring opportunity since the warm-up.
In the third period, something changed. Zach Parise made mention of it after the game that Brent Sutter had said some things in the locker room, and it rallied the troops. It was obvious.
After the penalties had ended for the Devils and the Penguins were up 10 shots to 3 nearing the mid-way point of the third period, the Devils started getting chances and attacking the Penguins when they were tired. It worked.
First, Patrik Elias just barely got the puck in the far post and past the line, and not two minutes later David Clarkson ripped one to tie the game up. For once the ability to blow a lead came from a team the Devils were playing against!
The next trick for the Devils was getting good scoring opportunities in the Overtime period. It only took one, as Martin Brodeur started the play, getting the puck down to Zach Parise, who sent it to Patrik Elias. Zach then drove to the net and Elias sent one off of Zach and past Penguin Netminder Ty Conklin to win the game – 37 second in to the OT period.
In the first two periods the Devils looked a little shaky and there was obvious room for improvement, but the team rallied in the third to get the job done and get a much-needed win.
Now the Atlantic Division has a three-way tie for first place between the Philadelphia Flyers, New Jersey Devils, and the Pittsburgh Penguins. The NY Rangers sit in fourth three points behind them. From now until the end of the season, every game is important. Teams will continue to jockey for position in the standings and everything down to Overtime extra point losses will be important to see who will be crowned the Atlantic Division champions.