Kovalchuk, Devils Face Off Against Bruins
BOSTON (AP) – Ilya Kovalchuk ended his recent slump with a dramatic goal in the New Jersey Devils’ latest victory. Now he’ll look to end another drought against a conference foe Monday night.
The Devils visit the Boston Bruins, who have held Kovalchuk without a point in four consecutive meetings.
Kovalchuk scored for the first time in seven games Friday when his power-play goal 3:27 into overtime beat Edmonton 4-3. It was Kovalchuk’s fourth goal in his 16th game this season after he reached that mark in two games in 2009-10.
Two nights earlier, Kovalchuk lost the puck on a shootout attempt, handing the Devils a 5-4 loss to Buffalo and drawing boos from the home fans. Friday, the crowd at Prudential Center stood and cheered.
“Yeah, that’s nice. Better than last game. So I appreciate that,” Kovalchuk said. “Especially after the last game, you just have to smile and go through it.”
The forward has 21 goals and 18 assists in 34 games against the Bruins, but he’s been held off the scoresheet in four straight and six of his last eight matchups with them.
Martin Brodeur made 21 saves Friday after missing the previous two games with a bruised elbow.
The victory was the first at home for New Jersey (5-10-2), which became the final team to win in its own building.
“We’ve been working hard and it’s nice to get that first home win,” first-year coach John MacLean said. “It’s great that we won but we have some work to do. We have some things we have to clean up.
“We’ll take the positives tonight and tomorrow we’ll look at it and get ready for Monday.”
The Devils may be without captain Jamie Langenbrunner for the second straight contest after he went headfirst into the boards against the Sabres.
“We’ll have to see how he feels tomorrow,” MacLean said Saturday. “He was sore today. We’ll see how it responds tomorrow.”
The Bruins’ Tim Thomas, who made 31 saves in a 4-1 win at New Jersey on Oct. 16, is likely to start. He lost 2-0 to Ottawa on Saturday but is 8-1-0 with a 1.45 goals-against average.
“I know you’re not going to win them all. (But I) want to,” Thomas said. “I thought it was going to be 9-0 after tonight. But that’s hockey: It doesn’t always work out the way you want it to.”
Boston (8-5-1) has lost two straight and four of five.
“I’m not going to throw anybody under the bus,” coach Claude Julien said, “but I’m not going to praise our team because we didn’t play well.”
Leading scorer Nathan Horton has only two goals in his last eight games. After beating Pittsburgh 7-4 on Thursday, the Bruins have totaled one goal in the consecutive defeats.
New Jersey has won four of the last five meetings with Boston and four of the previous six at TD Garden.
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