Apparently, it takes a smoke bomb to beat the Devils in overtime this season.
Tonight's 4-3 win over the Penguins was the Devils' seventh in overtime this season and they have lost only once in the extra session. As some of you probably remember, that loss came on Oct 25 in Philadelphia. Jeff Carter scored the winning goal 30 seconds after play was stopped because a fan threw a smoke bomb on the ice that slid to a stop near the Devils' bench. (The alleged culprit was finally arrested by Philadelphia police last week).
Other than that, the Devils have been perfect in overtime this season.
"I think the advantage we have is we roll four groups and when you have that many guys going, you're fresh the whole way," said Jamie Langenbrunner, who scored his second overtime winner in as many nights tonight. "Our D are such good skaters and are good at moving the puck and getting up with the play, that that's a huge advantage. Two on two is tough, but when the D joins in that makes it a lot harder on the other team."
Langenbrunner and Zach Parise have two OT winners each this season. Patrik Elias, Brian Rolston and Johnny Oduya have scored one apiece.
The Devils haven't had a lot of success when pulling the goaltender for a sixth attacker this season, but they got it done on Langenbrunner's tying goal with 30.1 seconds left tonight. Langenbrunner's backhand shot went in off the leg of Pittsburgh's Ryan Whitney in front, but a lot had to happen before that for the Devils to score.
After Marc-Andre Fleury stopped play with 36.8 seconds left in regulation, Devils coach Brent Sutter called timeout to discuss strategy on the bench. He sent out six forwards for the ensuing faceoff in the left circle: Langenbrunner, Parise, Elias, Brendan Shanahan, Travis Zajac and Dainius Zubrus.
Zubrus took the faceoff against Bill Thomas and lost it. Zajac made the key play, however, by getting to the left corner to block Rob Scuderi's attempt the ring the puck around the end boards.
"We knew off the faceoff, they were doing a lot of coming back up the same side and we talked about it on the bench," Langenbrunner said. "Trav went down and forced them one way and Zach the other way and really hemmed them in. That's the advantage of having that extra guy. We were able to send three guys below the goal line and really jump on them."
"We sort know what we're going to do on 6-on-5 and try to get the puck behind the net and work from there and try to get a scoring chance and it just so happened that Jamie was left alone behind the net and took it out and was able to get one in," Zajac said. "We were sort able to battle and get the puck back and Zach passed to Jamie and he did the rest."
Two plays that kind of got overlooked tonight were Andy Greene's pass to Zajac along the half wall that preceded Zajac's pass to Langenbrunner on the overtime goal.
The other was Scott Clemmensen's pad save on Pascal Dupuis with about one second left in regulation. Clemmensen didn't have his best game tonight and probably should have stopped Evgeni Malkin's goal that made it 3-1 in the third, but he came up big there.
"That was a big save," Devils coach Brent Sutter said. "That was probably the save of the game"
Of Greene, Sutter said: "He's playing with a lot of confidence. He's making smart decisions with pucks."