By John Schweibacher
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With 10 games remaining on their 2011-12 schedule, the New Jersey Devils sit in the 6th spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race, 11 points ahead of the 9th place Winnipeg Jets.
If the Devils return to the playoffs this spring, the extra points New Jersey has collected in overtimes and shootouts this season will be a major reason why.
The Devils begin the week with 15 wins after regulation, tied with the Colorado Avalanche for the most in the NHL:
NHL Most OT/Shootout wins 2011-12 (through 3/18):
· New Jersey 15
· Colorado 15
· Vancouver 12
· Pittsburgh 11
· Buffalo 11
Predictably, New Jersey’s game last week with Colorado was not decided in 60 minutes. The Devils eventual 1-0 shootout victory over the Avalanche was their 11th tie-breaker win of the season, their most in a single season since the shootout was introduced in 2005-06:
· 2005-06 9-4
· 2006-07 10-8
· 2007-08 8-4
· 2008-09 6-2
· 2009-10 6-5
· 2010-11 3-2
· 2011-12 11-3
Ilya Kovalchuk scored the deciding goal in the shootout victory over the Avalanche. The Devils are now 11-3 in the shootout this season and Kovalchuk’s deciding goal was his seventh of the season, breaking the NHL record set by Adrian Aucoin with Phoenix in 2009-10.
It was Kovalchuk’s 10th shootout goal of the season (in 12 attempts), tying the NHL single-season record set by Jussi Jokinen with Dallas in 2005-06 and matched by Wojtek Wolski for Colorado in 2008-09 and Alex Tanguay of the Calgary Flames in 2010-11.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Kovalchuk had scored only 11 goals in 42 career attempts prior to this season (26 percent).
Martin Brodeur’s 1-0 shootout victory against Colorado was the 651st win of his NHL career. Brodeur, the all-time leader in wins by an NHL goaltender, now has 100 more wins than Patrick Roy, the #2 man on the list.
Brodeur broke Roy’s record three years ago, on March 17th, 2009. Since then, only nine NHL goalies have collected more wins than Brodeur. NHL Goalies most wins since March 17th, 2009:
· 1 Marc-Andre Fleury PIT 119
· 2 Roberto Luongo VAN 113
· 3 Ilya Bryzgalov PHX/PHI 113
· 4 Henrik Lundqvist NYR 111
· 5 Miikka Kiprusoff CGY 110
· 6 Jonathan Quick LA 109
Pekka Rinne NSH 109
· 8 Jimmy Howard DET 107
· 9 Ryan Miller BUF 105
· 10 Martin Brodeur NJD 100
(totals through 3/18/12)
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, when Roy retired after the 2002-03 season with a league-record 551 career wins, Brodeur stood 13th on the all-time list at 365 victories, 186 behind Roy.
The week ahead for the Devils begins with road games against the Rangers and Senators and concludes with a Friday night match-up with the Maple Leafs in New Jersey and a Sunday night meeting with the Penguins in Pittsburgh.
The Devils play the Rangers for the final time on the 2011-12 schedule Monday night at Madison Square Garden. In their last meeting back on March 6th, David Clarkson and Ryan Carter scored third-period goals against Henrik Lundqvist and Patrik Elias added an empty-net marker to give the Devils a 4-1 win over the Rangers.
It was only the third time in Lundqvist’s 40 regular-season games against New Jersey that he allowed more than one goal in the third period. Going into that game, Lundqvist had a current streak of seven consecutive goalless third periods against the Devils.
Here are the only three games in which New Jersey managed to score more than once against Lundqvist:
· 12/12/2008 NYR 5 @ NJD 8 (3 goals in 3rd: Elias, Gionta, Langenbrunner).
· 3/25/2010 NYR 4 @ NJD 3 SO (2 goals in 3rd: Elias, Langenbrunner).
· 3/6/2012 NYR 1 @ NJD 4 (2 goals in 3rd: Clarkson, Carter).
In his past three games vs. the Rangers, Brodeur has allowed just two goals on 69 shots. Lundqvist, who has started four of the five games New York has played against New Jersey, has given up just five goals on 89 shots.
Here is how Brodeur and Lundqvist have fared in the games between theDevils and Rangers this season:
W/L Shots/Saves Save % GAA SHO
· Brodeur vs. NYR 3-2-0 116/108 .931 1.59 1
· Lundqvist vs NJD 2-2-0 94/89 .947 1.26 1
The Devils face the Senators in Ottawa on Tuesday night. The two teams have split their two meetings so far this season; a 5-4 New Jersey shootout win at Prudential Center back on December 8th and a 3-2 overtime win for the Senators in Ottawa on January 2nd.
The Devils have lost four straight in Ottawa dating back to November 7th, 2009. The two teams will meet once more on April 7th in Newark, in the regular season finale for both clubs.
Monday and Tuesday night’s games will be the 15th and final pair of back-to-back contests for the Devils this season. So far, New Jersey has gone 6-6-2 in the front end of consecutive games, 10-4-0 on the back-end of their back-to-backs.
The Devils host Toronto Friday night. New Jersey has taken two of three from the Maple Leafs this season, winning both meetings in Toronto.
The Devils and Penguins meet for the 6th and final time this season Sunday night in Pittsburgh. New Jersey has won three of the five games so far in 2011-12.
Marc-Andre Fleury got the win for the Penguins over the Devils this past Saturday. The Pittsburgh goaltender is now 13-18-4 in his career against New Jersey, which other than his 0-5-0 mark vs. Minnesota, is his worst record against any NHL opponent.
Plus: Travis Zajac. Devils center returns to practice for first time since January 2nd. Achilles’ injury has limited Zajac to just eight games played this season but is hoping to return for stretch run.
Minus: Henrik Tallinder. Devils defenseman has already missed eight weeks with a blood clot of the lower left leg but is no closer to returning.