Devils slip past Penguins for 3-2 victory
New Jersey Devils left wing Ilya Kovalchuk (17), of Russia, watches his goal get past Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, top, and Simon Despres (47) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, April 25, 2013, in Newark, N.J. The Devils won 3-2. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
NEWARK, N.J. – Ilya Kovalchuk scored his first goal since suffering a shoulder injury last month, giving the New Jersey Devils a 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins Thursday.
Kovalchuk’s goal with 6:10 remaining helped New Jersey overcome a 2-0 deficit and win its home finale.
Travis Zajac and David Clarkson also scored for the Devils. Johan Hedberg made 15 saves in his first start since March 19 for his sixth win of the season.
Matt Cooke scored in the first period and Jussi Jokinen added a second-period goal for the Penguins.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 saves Pittsburgh.
Penguins star Sidney Crosby missed his 10th straight game with a broken jaw, but he was cleared by medical personnel to return to hockey-related activity.
Crosby has played in 36 games, but has 56 points.
Kovalchuk scored the winner off a nice pass from Steve Sullivan for his 11th goal of the season.
Cooke scored the only goal in the first period, collecting a pass from Brenden Morrow alone in front. Cooke put the puck between Hedberg’s pads at 8:52.
The Penguins pushed the lead to 2-0 with six minutes left in the second period when Jokinen scored on the power play.
Kris Letang made a nice pass to Jokinen, who secured a bouncing puck and knocked it past Hedberg for his 11th goal of the season and his fifth goal in nine games with Pittsburgh since being acquired from Carolina.
The Devils cut the deficit late in the second period, when Zajac knocked home a rebound of an Anton Volchenkov shot that eluded Fleury at 18:33. It was Zajac’s seventh goal of the season.
New Jersey tied the score with a power-play goal early in the third period. Clarkson went in on a give-and-go with Patrik Elias and scored the tying goal at 3:01. It was Clarkson’s 15th goal of the season, but only his third goal in the past 14 games. Kovalchuk added an assist.
NOTES: Devils defenseman Eric Gelinas made his NHL debut and the 21-year-old rookie was given the start by coach Peter DeBoer. Gelinas, the team’s second-round draft pick in 2009, suffered a broken jaw when he was hit with a puck in the mouth while playing for Albany of the AHL in October. He was recalled by the team to replace injured defenseman Bryce Salvador, who missed the last two weeks of the season due to an injured wrist. ... Hedberg started in net for the first time since March 19 against the Rangers.
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