Kovalchuk Goal Sinks Capitals

Ilya Kovalchuk entered tonight with four game-winning goals against the Washington Capitals. That included one in the matchup on January 25, when he beat Michael Neuvirth to down the Capitals in overtime.

Tonight, he did it again.

Ilya Kovalchuk scored the game-winning goal in the third period to lead the New Jersey Devils (10-3-4) over the Capitals (5-10-1), 3-2.

Patrik Elias recorded a multi-goal game, and Andrei Loktionov scored his first goal as a Devil. Martin Brodeur stopped 17 shots for his first win in Washington in his last four starts.

Matthieu Perrault and Mike Ribeiro scored for the Capitals, who have dropped two straight games after winning three in a row. The loss pushed them to the bottom of the NHL standings.

Kovalchuk’s power-play goal at 11:40 of the final period snapped a 2-2 tie. Elias held the puck in the right circle during a 5-on-3 power play, finding an open Kovalchuk with a pass to the point. The Devils right wing slapped a one-timer that found its way through a mass of bodies and past Braden Holtby for his sixth goal of the season.

That goal came during a string of five consecutive Capitals penalties, which helped eliminate their 2-1 lead they brought into the third.

Perrault opened the scoring  in the second period, beating Brodeur on the power play for his second goal of the season. Troy Brouwer cut through the Devils defenders, driving the net and putting a shot on Brodeur. The Devils goalie stopped his attempt, but couldn’t recover to make the save on Perrault, who came toward the net untouched. The Capitals forward whacked it into the open net to give Washington the early lead.

Elias responded with a shorthanded tally, tying the score at one less than two minutes later. Adam Henrique started the play, stripping Capitals John Carlson of the puck behind his net. He played it up to Elias on the side boards, who immediately sent a pass back to Henrique. He skated out from behind the net and sent a pass to Elias at the left post. The Devils left wing beat a diving Holtby for his fifth goal of the season.

New Jersey, who led the league with 15 shorthanded goals during the 2011-12 season, leads the league with four shorthanded tallies.

Just over a minute later, Ribeiro restored the Capitals lead with the second power-play goal of the period. Brouwer fed the Capitals center with a pass from the right circle, and Ribeiro skated it into the slot. He kicked the puck to his stick, sending a bouncing puck in on Brodeur. It snuck through the legs of the Devils goalie and into the net for Ribeiro’s sixth goal of the season.

The Devils have allowed 10 power-play goals over its last eight games.

Loktionov scored his first goal as a Devil at 9:19 of the third period, tying the game at two. He won a faceoff in the right circle, sending the puck back to Adam Larsson. The Devils defenseman shot the puck from the point. Holtby stopped Larsson, but left a rebound near the bottom of the right circle for Loktionov. He put the puck into an open net for his first goal of the season.

Holtby, who started his fifth straight game, stopped 34 shots in the loss.

The two teams will play the second of back-to-back games at the Verizon Center Saturday. It’s the first time in franchise history the Devils will play consecutive road games against the same opponent in the regular season.

Game Notes

Loktionov’s last NHL goal came as a member of the Los Angeles Kings. He last scored on February 12, 2012 against the Dallas Stars. New Jersey acquired the center from Los Angeles for a fifth-round pick on February 7.

Marek Zidlicky, who assisted on Kovalchuk’s game-winning goal, has six power-play assists this season.

New Jersey tied a season-low in shots allowed in the third period, holding Washington to just three shots on net. The Devils last did that on January 19, holding the New York Islanders to three shots in the first period.

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