By John Schweibacher
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The New Jersey Devils have reached a number of milestones during their current four-game winning streak.
Sunday night’s 4-1 victory over Philadelphia was the Devils’ 40th of the season and with 85 total points, they have now blown past the 38 win, 81-point mark New Jersey finished with in 2010-11.
Martin Brodeur collected career win number 650 in the victory over the Flyers, and with one more win will have 100 more than Patrick Roy, who he passed for the all-time record three years ago this week.
Ilya Kovalchuk reached the 30-goal mark for the ninth consecutive season with his third-period goal in the Devils’ 4-1 win over the Flyers on Sunday. Kovalchuk, who is now one goal away from 400 for his career, fell one goal shy of 30 as a rookie with the Atlanta Thrashers back in 2001-02, but has now scored at least 30 goals in every season since.
Zach Parise reached the 400-point plateau with a pair of assists in New Jersey’s 5-1 win over the Islanders last Thursday, moving past Bruce Driver into 9th place on the franchise’s all-time scoring list:
The Devils were less than two minutes away from being shut out 1-0 for the second time in seven days by Islanders rookie Anders Nilsson until David Clarkson and Marek Zidlicky scored goals 14 seconds apart to enable New Jersey to steal a 2-1 win at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday night.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the third time in franchise history that the Devils won a game in regulation time after trailing in the final two minutes of the third period. Their previous two such comeback victories were at Ottawa on December 6th, 2003 (2-1) and February 5th, 2010 vs. Toronto (4-3).
The 2003 comeback win over the Senators featured goals from Scott Niedermeyer and Brian Gionta which came 79 seconds apart at 18:23 and 19:42 of the 3rd period.
The come-from-behind victory in 2010 was also the Devils’ debut of Kovalchuk, who assisted on one of three New Jersey goals in the final 3:04 that night. Travis Zajac and Jay Pandolfo scored at 19:16 and 19:41 of the 3rd to complete the comeback.
Kovalchuk scored three goals, one in each period, to lead the Devils to a 5-1 win over the Islanders last Thursday night in New Jersey. It was Kovalchuk’s second hat trick of the season (he scored three goals at Buffalo on February 14th) and the 13th of his ten-season NHL career.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Kovalchuk’s 13 hat tricks since 2001-02 tie him with Marian Gaborik for the most in the NHL over that span. Kovalchuk’s three-goal game on Thursday was only the second of his 13 hat tricks in which he scored goals in the first, second and third period. He also did that for Atlanta against Pittsburgh on January 6th, 2006.
Kovalchuk’s 13 career hat tricks are tied for third most among active players: Teemu Selanne (22), Jaromir Jagr (14) and Marian Gaborik (13).
The Devils visit the Flyers on Tuesday night in Philadelphia before heading home to host the Colorado Avalanche and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
This will be New Jersey’s final regular season meeting with the Flyers. The Devils, who have won both games in Philadelphia so far this season, are looking for their first sweep of the Flyers on the road in club history.
New Jersey’s Thursday night match-up with Colorado will be the second between the two clubs this season. The Avalanche beat the Devils, 6-1, back on November 30th in Denver.
Colorado rookie Gabriel Landeskog, the second pick overall in last year’s NHL Entry Draft, is likely to be Devils rookie Adam Henrique’s biggest competitor for the Calder Trophy this season.
Henrique, who begins the week three points ahead of Landeskog for the rookie scoring lead, has already posted the 6th-best all-time point mark among rookies in Devils’ history:
The Devils will break out their red, white and green sweaters when the Pittsburgh Penguins come to Prudential Center on St. Patrick’s Day afternoon. Two years ago, New Jersey defeated the Penguins, 5-2, on St. Patrick’s Day evening while wearing their throwback uniforms.
New Jersey played six St. Patrick’s Day games from 1983 thru 1992 with the green in their jerseys. The Devils went 2 and 4 in those games losing both of the home-ice contests at the Meadowlands; 9-5 vs. the Islanders on March 17th, 1983 and 4-3 to Quebec on March 17th, 1988.
Sidney Crosby is on the verge of returning and could face the Devils for the first time since December 6th, 2010, a 2-1 Penguins win over New Jersey in Pittsburgh. Crosby had a goal and an assist in that victory, giving him 37 points in his 34 career games against the Devils.
Plus: One and Done. The Devils have allowed no more than one goal in each of their last six games, breaking the franchise record of five set back in November 2003.
Minus: Adam Larsson. Rookie defenseman continues to struggle since returning from lower-back injury and sits out final seven minutes of 2nd period and all of the 3rd vs. Flyers.
Will the Devils be able to keep their foot on the gas? Sound off below…