By John Schweibacher
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The Devils may have put the brakes on their recent skid with two shootout victories in their last three games.
Johan Hedberg stopped all three shots he faced in the shootout, earning him and the Devils a 3-2 win over the Jets on Sunday night after making a pair of saves in the shootout in New Jersey’s 3-2 victory over the Sabres last Thursday.
Since the NHL began using the shootout in the 2005-06 season, Hedberg has recorded 24 percent of his wins via the tiebreaker (25 of 105).
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that is the highest percentage of overall wins by shootouts in the last eight seasons for any NHL goaltender with at least 50 total wins over that span. Jonathan Quick is second at 21 percent (29-of-139). Martin Brodeur’s total is 16 percent (42-of-261).
Sunday night’s Devils win also saw the end of a stretch of nine straight games in which they had allowed the first goal. The team record is 11, which has happened two times. It last happened during the 1986-87 season.
• 12/19/86 vs. Washington through 1/10/87 vs. Vancouver (1-7-3 record)
• 3/13/84 vs. Islanders through 4/1/84 vs. Boston (1-9-1 record)
Keith Kincaid and Jeff Frazee both made their NHL debuts for the Devils this past week, replacing Hedberg in goal during New Jersey’s losses to Tampa Bay and Carolina.
The last time two Devils goaltenders made their NHL debuts in the same season was back in 2001-02, when Scott Clemmensen and J.F. Damphousse both did so. Clemmensen relieved Brodeur to start the third period of their 6-1 opening-night loss to the Capitals in Washington on October 6, 2001. Damphousse debuted with a start against the Lightning in Tampa Bay on November 23, 2001, and took the loss, 2-0.
Prior to that, you have to go back to 1992 to find the last time two New Jersey goalies made their first NHL appearances in the same season. On March 22, 1992, Chad Erickson took the loss in his first NHL outing, 6-3, in a start against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Four days later, Brodeur made his NHL debut with a 4-2 victory over the Bruins at the Meadowlands.
The Devils’ 3-2 shootout victory over the Sabres last Thursday night also snapped a six-game losing streak, as New Jersey avoided losing seven straight for the first time since January 24 through February 8 of 1985.
Hedberg got the win, ending his seven-game losing streak which dated back to February 16 against the Islanders. The losing streak was the longest by a Devils goalie since Craig Billington dropped nine consecutive decisions from March 3, 1987, through April 5, 1987.
Brodeur’s longest losing streak is six games. Brodeur lost six straight from March 22, 2009, through April 1, 2009, and again from December 17, 2010, through December 29, 2010.
Patrik Elias scored with 1:06 remaining in regulation to tie the game with Buffalo. It was the 40th time in team history that New Jersey tied a game with the goaltender pulled. It was the third time in his career that Elias scored with the extra attacker, one shy of Brian Gionta’s team record.
Here is the list of players who have scored more than one extra-attacker goal for the New Jersey Devils.
• Brian Gionta: 4 (3/23/06 at Atl, 10/12/06 vs. Tor, 10/19/06 vs. NSH and 1/20/07 vs Phi)
• Patrik Elias 3 (11/9/01 vs. Tor, 4/2/06 at Pitt and 3/7/13 vs. Buf)
• Brendan Shanahan 3 (1/21/88 vs. Det, 10/4/90 vs. Det and 3/6/91 at Buf).
• Pat Verbeek 2 (3/7/85 vs. NYI and 10/17/87 at Har)
• Bruce Driver 2 (3/1/87 at Har and 4/1/90 at Bos)
• Kirk Muller 2 (12/26/89 at NYR and 2/19/90 at NYR)
• Stephane Richer 2 (3/21/92 vs. NYI and 4/4/95 vs TB)
• Jamie Langenbrunner 2 (3/1/03 vs. Was and 1/30/09 vs. Pit)
• Sergei Brylin 2 (10/16/03 vs. Tor an 3/2/07 vs. Tor)
• David Clarkson 2 (1/12/08 at Buf and 1/31/12 vs. NYR)
• Travis Zajac 2 (10/8/09 at TB and 2/5/10 vs. Tor)
Plus: Patrik Elias — Registers ninth career shootout-deciding goal in win vs. Jets, tying Zach Parise for the Devils’ all-time lead.
Minus: Troubled Waters — Devils go just 3-6-2 in 11-game stretch against non-Atlantic Division opponents.
How do you feel about this team at this point in the season, Devils fans? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…