By John Schweibacher
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Petr Sykora scored two goals for the Devils in their win over the Sabres last Wednesday. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the 43rd multiple-goal game of Sykora’s NHL career and his first multi-goal game for New Jersey since April 7th, 2002 vs. Boston.
Sykora, who played his first seven seasons in the NHL with the Devils (1995-96 through 2001-02) and recorded 22 multi-goal games over that span, is in his second stint with New Jersey.
The span of 9 years, 8 months and 21 days separating Sykora’s last two multiple-goal games for the Devils is the second-longest gap between multi-goal games for the franchise by one player. The only longer time period in club history belongs to Brian Rolston, who posted two-goal games for New Jersey more than 10 years apart (February 22nd, 1999 and November 21st, 2009).
Patrik Elias’ two assists in New Jersey’s win over Buffalo were the 499th and 500th of his NHL career, which has been spent entirely with the Devils. According to Elias, the Sports Bureau not the player himself, only four other active NHL players have at least 500 assists for their current team: Nicklas Lidstrom (Detroit, 870), Daniel Alfredsson (Ottawa, 650), Henrik Sedin (Vancouver, 545) and Jarome Iginla (Calgary, 538). (Totals thru 1/1)
Three of Sykora and Elias’ last four multiple-point games came in the same three contests, wins over Dallas (12/16), Montreal (12/17) and Buffalo (12/28). Elias is New Jersey’s all-time leader in multiple-point games while Sykora is now 5th in Devils’ history:
Devils’ All-Time Multiple-Point Games
Sykora has only one career hat trick and that came while he was with the Penguins against the Rangers on December 11th, 2008. Sykora has the most career goals for the Devils without ever having a three-goal game while with New Jersey:
· Petr Sykora 155
· Sergei Brylin 129
· Scott Niedermayer 112
· Scott Stevens 93
· Travis Zajac 90
Ilya Kovalchuk closed out 2011 in style, as he scored the Devils’ first goal (on a penalty shot) and assisted on their last two goals in New Jersey’s 3-1 win over the Penguins this past Saturday.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was only the second multiple-point game for Kovalchuk in his last 21 games against Pittsburgh, dating back to December 2006.
Kovalchuk’s only other multi-point game versus the Penguins over that span was on March 12th, 2010, when he tallied one goal and two assists in his first game against Pittsburgh after the trade that sent him from Atlanta to New Jersey. Coincidentally, Kovalchuk also had a penalty shot attempt in that game but was stopped by Pens’ goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
The Devils host the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins Wednesday night. The Bruins took the first meeting between the two teams, 4-3, back on November 15th in Boston.
Former Devils coach Claude Julien is now in his 5th season behind the Bruins bench. Only 28 head coaches or managers in the four major sports currently have longer tenures than Julien and only four of those are in the NHL:
· Lindy Ruff Buffalo 7/21/97
· Barry Trotz Nashville 8/6/97
· Mike Babcock Detroit 7/14/05
· Alain Vigneault Vancouver 6/20/06
· Claude Julien Boston 6/21/07
New Jersey host Florida Friday night at Prudential Center. The two teams have split their two meetings so far this season and both of those games were played in Florida, a 4-3 Panthers win back on November 21st and a 3-2, shootout victory for the Devils on December 13th.
The Panthers have gone just 10-25-3 all-time against the Devils in New Jersey and two of those wins came in the last two seasons under their former and now Devils’ head coach, Pete DeBoer.
The Devils begin a four-game road trip next Saturday night in Pittsburgh. The Penguins have won all four of their meetings so far against the Devils at Consol Energy Center, including a 4-1 win back on October 22nd.
Plus: Adam Henrique. Named NHL Rookie of the Month for December. In 14 games, Henrique was plus-9 with five goals and eight assists.
Minus: Caught Short. Devils allow NHL-worst 12th short-handed goal in 3-2, overtime loss in Ottawa.
How good has Sykora been for the Devils? Be heard in the comments below…