The New Jersey Devils completed their home-and-home sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday night with a 3-1 victory at the Consol Energy Center. David Clarkson led the Devils to their fifth straight win with two goals. Ilya Kovalchuk also scored for the Devils, giving him two goals and three assists in the last three games. The Devils are also now 7-0-1 this season when scoring first.
"I think the big thing right now is this team is winning," Clarkson said. "It doesn't matter who's scoring. The puck's going in, but it doesn't matter who it is. We're doing good things."
“Especially after our first game here, I think we all were very disappointed because we didn’t bring our A game and it was a great challenge for us to see where we’re at and these two games showed we’re in pretty good shape as a team,” Kovalchuk said. “We know the way we play, the way Pete wants us to play works and we all believe in that. It’s very important.”
Johan Hedberg made 23 saves to improve to 2-0-1 on the season with a stingy 0.65 goals against average. The Devils now sit comfortably atop the Eastern Conference with a 8-1-3 record, their best start in franchise history. They are also second in the NHL behind the soaring Chicago Blackhawks.
Devils coach Pete DeBoer continues to lead this team to some stellar play as of late with a persistent forecheck that wears the other team down and continues to doubt the naysayers.
“It’s a testament to our character,” DeBoer said. “I think a lot of people thought that maybe our run last year was accidental and I think you’re seeing the depth of this team and how they play.”
The Devils were without Dainius Zubrus, who missed his third straight game with an upper-body injury. Henrik Tallinder and Peter Harrold were healthy scratches for New Jersey.
New Jersey now looks to continue their hot streak on Tuesday night when they return to Newark to face the Carolina Hurricanes. The puck drops at the Prudential Center at 7 p.m.