It wasn’t exactly how they wanted to draw it up, but the Devils improved to 5-1 in shootouts this season after their 2-1 victory over the Blue Jackets on Wednesday night.
“We were so poor at it in our years in Florida, that I used to not look on it as favorably,” coach Peter DeBoer said. “I’m starting to now with how good these guys are, that’s for sure.”
Dynamic duo Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise had the shootout goals for the Devils, while Martin Brodeur stopped Rick Nash and Mark Letestu to secure the win.
Kovalchuk gave the Devils a 1-0 lead in the first round when he fired a forehand wrister that beat Columbus’ Curtis Sanford five-hole.
“I just closed my eyes and shot it,” Kovalchuk said.
Brodeur followed by robbing Nash with a glove save, and Parise gave the Devils a 2-0 edge when he deked Sandford before roofing a backhander top-shelf. Then Brodeur ended it by going down and stonewalling Letestu.
“I think if I do them [moves in the shootout] the right way and time it right, I think they’re pretty tough to stop,” Parise said. “And right now, the timing is right. It’s nice going second, I can watch a little bit. I was able to watch when Kovy came in, and watched the replay and saw what their goalie was doing on him.”
Parise currently ranks first in the NHL with five shootout goals (5-for-6), while Kovalchuk is tied for second with four (4-for-4).
Brodeur’s 36 shootout victories rank second all-time to Henrik Lundqvist’s 38.
So is the shootout a weapon for the Devils?
“Well, I mean, we haven’t used it as that,” DeBoer said. “The chatter on the bench in overtime is to try and win the game. It’s not, ‘Hey, we’re great at shootouts, let’s try to get to the shootout.’ Having said that, I think that there’s a real comfort level there with our big guys that if we get there, they can win us the game, and that’s great.”