NHL Game Summary - Chicago at New Jersey
(Friday, April 2nd)
Final Score: Chicago 2, New Jersey 1 (SO)
Newark, NJ (Sports Network) - Jonathan Toews scored the lone goal of the shootout as the Chicago Blackhawks rallied to take a 2-1 win over the New Jersey Devils.
With the win, Chicago increased its point total to 103 points, good for the second spot in the Western Conference. The win eliminates Nashville from the Central Division title as the Predators only have three games to play and trail by seven points, but Detroit, which is eight points back, has five games to play and is still in contention for the division. Also, the Blackhawks are three points back of San Jose for the top spot in the Western Conference.
With the point, New Jersey moved to 95 points on the season and now sits in first place in the Atlantic Division and third spot in the Eastern Conference. New Jersey and Pittsburgh both have the same record, but New Jersey holds the tiebreaker as it won all six games against Pittsburgh this season. Also, New Jersey is one point behind Buffalo for the second position in the Eastern Conference. All three teams have five games to play.
After Antti Niemi stopped Jamie Langenbrunner, Toews buried a wrister into the right corner of the net. Niemi then made stops on Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk for the win.
Kris Versteeg scored with 26 seconds to play while Niemi stopped 32 shots for the Blackhawks, who have won two straight.
"This was a good win and hopefully we can take the momentum from this and follow it up the next game," said Toews. "It wasn't the most exciting game I've ever played, but it was a big character win."
Kovalchuk scored in the first period while Martin Brodeur stopped 25 shots for the Devils, who have dropped three straight.
"We need to play better in these situations," said Brodeur. "We have to get it done when we hold the lead late and we didn't do that tonight. You're not gonna win playoff games if you do some of the things we did tonight."
The one thing this game did not have was a penalty call, as the teams went 65 minutes without a single infraction. It was the first time that happened in a 65-minute game since March 28, 2001, when the Bruins and Maple Leafs played a penalty-free game.
Chicago proved unable to solve Brodeur for 59:34 of game time, but with Niemi pulled for an extra attacker, the team tied the game as New Jersey failed to clear the puck. Versteeg's turnaround slap shot from the right circle went through a screen and in to tie the game.
The only goal of the first period came 5:49 in, when Patrik Elias sent a pass from behind the net to the front, where Kovalchuk one-timed it home for his 40th goal of the season.
Brodeur stopped nine shots in the first period and seven in the second to keep New Jersey in front heading into the final 20 minutes.
New Jersey plays its next three games on the road, starting in Carolina on Saturday...Chicago hosts Calgary on Sunday...Kovalchuk has reached the 40-goal mark in each of his last six seasons...The Blackhawks have won the past three meetings with the Devils. However, it was Chicago's first win in the Garden State since December 30, 1997, during which the team went 0-7 with a tie.
04/02 23:08:07 ET