By John Schweibacher
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Johan Hedberg came off the bench last Thursday to replace the injured Martin Brodeur at the end of the first period, stopped all 16 shots on goal he faced and both shootout attempts by the Kings to pick up the win for New Jersey.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was Hedberg’s seventh career victory in a game he did not start, the most relief wins among active NHL goaltenders. The only other active netminder with more than four relief wins is the Penguins’ Brent Johnson with five.
Here are Hedberg’s seven career relief wins:
• 10/13/11 2-1 NJD vs. LA 2-1 SO (replaced Brodeur)
• 11/3/10 5-3 NJD at CHI 5-3 (replaced Brodeur)
• 3/26/09 5-4 ATL vs. NYR 5-4 SO (replaced Lehtonen)
• 10/18/07 5-3 ATL vs. NYR 5-3 (replaced Lehtonen)
• 1/8/06 6-3 DAL at DET 6-3 (replaced Turco)
• 1/6/06 4-3 DAL vs. ANA 4-3 SO (replaced Turco)
• 10/14/02 5-4 PIT at TOR 5-4 (replaced Aubin)
Hedberg also stopped a penalty shot in the first period of his shootout win at Nashville on Saturday. The Devils scored on both of their shootout attempts while the Predators failed to get either one of their two tiebreaker shots past Hedberg.
According to Elias, over the last three seasons the only other NHL goaltender to go unscored upon in a shootout in a game in which he faced an unsuccessful penalty shot during regulation or overtime of the contest was the Islanders’ Rick DiPietro on March 19th, 2011 at Florida.
With his two shootout wins, Hedberg improved his all-time record in the tie-breaker to 20 and 6, the best winning percentage (.769) among goalies with at least 20 career shootout decisions.
Hedberg is now 11 and 1 in his career on home ice in shootouts, the lone defeat coming last season at Prudential Center against Buffalo.
Devils coach Pete DeBoer was not exaggerating after the game when he talked about his past struggles as a coach in shootouts.
Under DeBoer, the Florida Panthers went just 13 and 25, a .342 winning percentage, the worst among NHL teams in the shootout from 2008-09 through 2010-11, in his three seasons as head coach.
DeBoer’s Panthers were also just 3 and 16 at home in shootouts in his three seasons at the helm.
Cam Janssen made his season debut for the Devils last week, becoming the 22nd player to be re-acquired and see action with New Jersey, joining Petr Sykora who did so earlier this season.
15 of the 22 players who have returned to New Jersey after an earlier stint have done so since the NHL lockout of 2004-05, with at least two Devils coming back in five of the seven seasons since:
• 2011-12 Petr Sykora and Cam Janssen.
• 2010-11 Jason Arnott and Jay Leach.
• 2009-10 Anssi Salmela.
• 2008-09 Brian Rolston, Bobby Holik, Scott Clemmensen and Brendan Shanahan.
• 2007-08 None.
• 2006-07 Mike Rupp and Jim Dowd.
• 2006-06 Vladimir Malakhov, Alexander Mogilny, Krzysztof Oliwa and Pascal Rheaume.
The Devils host the San Jose Sharks Friday night at Prudential Center and then head to Pittsburgh to face the Penguins Saturday.
New Jersey has gone 17-8-3 all-time vs. the Sharks, splitting last season’s two meetings.
The Devils have won each of their last five home-ice contests against San Jose, dating back to a 3-2 Sharks win on November 14th, 2000 at the Meadowlands.
Colin White signed with the San Jose Sharks this summer after the final year of his contract was bought out by New Jersey.
White is 11th on the Devils’ all-time list of games played, 4th among defenseman in club history.
• Ken Daneyko 1,283
• Martin Brodeur 1,134
• Patrik Elias 965
• Scott Stevens 956
• John MacLean 934
• Scott Niedermayer 892
• Jay Pandolfo 819
• Bobby Holik 786
• Sergei Brylin 765
• Randy McKay 760
• Colin White 743
The Devils were 2-3-1 in their six meetings with the Penguins in 2010-11, going 0-2-1 in Pittsburgh. Sidney Crosby, who has not played in a game since January 5th, last faced New Jersey back on December 6th, 2010, registering a goal and an assist in a 2-1 Penguins win.
Plus: 3 in a row. Devils on three-game winning streak just four games into season. New Jersey did not put together three straight wins last season until January.
Minus: Goals. If you don’t count their empty-net and shootout goals, the Devils have scored just six through their first four games.