With the struggling New Jersey Devils trailing the Oilers by 2 goals late in the first period, Alexander Vasyunov scored his first NHL goal. Vasyunov slipped in behind the defender to get open in front of the Devan Dubnyk and banged home a Travis Zajac pass. The goal helped the Devils rally to win their first home game of the year. Patrik Elias also assisted on the goal.
Vasyunov, 22 years of age, is 8 games into his young NHL career and now has points 3 points (1 goal, 2 assists) and points in back to back games. He played 24 shifts on Friday night for a total of 18:16 of ice time, both career highs. On Wednesday night against the Buffalo Sabres he assisted on David Clarkson’s goal, also the first goal for the Devils that night.
With injuries to Zach Parise and Jamie Langenbrunner and long-term cap problems, there is a place on the Devils for Vasyunov to earn. His low cap hit could make other players expendable if he can continue to get his name on the score sheet. Vasyunov was the 2nd round pick, 5th overall, of the Devils in the 2006 entry draft.
Ending what seemed an improbable comeback for this year’s Devils team was none other than Ilya Kovalchuk. Almost 48 hours after his shootout gaffe that some believed cost them the game (forgetting about the lackluster defense) Kovalchuk would draw a tripping call giving the Devils a power play 2:41 into overtime.
He would then shuffle the puck back in forth between Henrik Tallinder, Elias, and himself before taking the feed from the Swede to blast it past Dubnyk for his fourth of the year. You could see the relief as he celebrated at center ice before being mobbed by his teammates clinching the Devils first win at home in the process.
Below are both goals courtesy as always of the NHL and NHL.com.