David Clarkson had no trouble admitting it was a lucky bounce that allowed him to tie the game at 3 with less than 47.6 seconds remaining in the Devils' 4-3 shootout win over the Rangers.
After defenseman Andy Greene directed the puck down the ice with time winding down, it took an odd carom off the partition to connect with a surprised Clarkson all alone in front against Rangers goaltender Martin Biron.
"I was just on the forecheck, to be honest with you," Clarkson said. "I was going for the rim and heard it hit something and I turned. I guess it was one of those gifts, we'd say. It just landed on my stick. It wasn't pretty, but I'll take it."
Clarkson seized the opportunity, beating Biron five-hole to knot the teams at 3 and send the two teams to overtime. In doing so, Clarkson matched his career high of 17 goals, set in 2008-09.
"I was pretty nervous, actually. I said 'Don't miss this.' You have that going through your head," Clarkson said. "Like I said, it was just a lucky play. Right time, right play."
Greene picked up an assist on equalizer, recording a point in his first game back after missing almost two months with a foot injury.
"Obviously, you never know with the partitions there," said Greene. "Put it up in there and see what happens. Luckily it worked out the way it did."
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Tallying the lone goal in the shootout, Ilya Kovalchuk improved on an already impressive record. The Russian sniper has scored on eight of nine attempts this season, making him an easy selection for Pete DeBoer, whose team has dropped only two of eleven total shootouts this season.
"When you practice with Marty and [Johan Hedberg] every day, they give me a couple of secrets on how I should go and what angle I should take on goalies," Kovalchuk explained. "And I listen."
What did he see on his shootout winner against Biron?
"I don't know what he was thinking," he said. "I just took what he [gave] me."
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DeBoer said goaltender Martin Brodeur will be back between the pipes Thursday against Montreal and indicated he will shoulder a significant workload the rest of the season as well.
"As long as the schedule allows, we're going to load him up with games," he said. "We're going to play him a lot."