Rapid Reaction: Devils 2, Hawks 1 (SO)

March, 27, 2012
3/27/12
9:42
PM ET
What it means: Veteran goaltender Martin Brodeur's stellar 37-save effort did not go to waste. Newly-returned Travis Zajac scored the game-winner as the Devils beat the Hawks 2-1 in a five-round shootout. After a strong first period, the Devils managed only eight shots combined in the last forty minutes of regulation, but came though in the skills competition for their 12th shootout win of the season. Brodeur snapped a four-game winless streak in helping his squad lock down a vital two points in the team's quest to secure a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference standings.

Shutout spoiled: Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook spoiled Brodeur's shutout bid, tying the game with a shot through traffic at 8:34 of the third. Seabrook remains the Blackhawks' top defenseman with Duncan Keith out while serving the second of a five-game ban for his concussion-causing hit on Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin.

Looking for lines: With only a handful of game remaining before the playoffs begin, Devils coach Pete DeBoer is opting for more balance among his top six forwards. With center Travis Zajac back from an Achilles injury, rookie pivot Adam Henrique moved to the left wing on the top line along with Zajac and Ilya Kovalchuk while Patrik Elias centered a line with captain Zach Parise and Dainius Zubrus.

Big kill: With the Devils clinging to a 1-0 lead in the second period, the team’s top-ranked penalty kill delivered on a crucial 67-second 5-on-3 situation for the Blackhawks. New Jersey has surrendered only 26 power-play goals this season on 249 attempts.

Sound investment: Despite being dropped to the fourth line to start Tuesday’s game, Petr Sykora continued to prorduce. The 35-year-old veteran, who made the team as a training camp tryout, tallied his 18th goal of the season. Sykora, who is making a modest $650,000 this season, deflected Henrique’s pass at 15:42 for a power-play goal and 1-0 Devils lead.

Larsson scratched: Rookie defenseman Adam Larsson watched Tuesday’s match from Lou Lamoriello’s box Tuesday night. The 19-year-old Swede was scratched by DeBoer because of his inconsistent play since returning from a lower back bruise last month. Larsson admitted he needs to step up his game with the playoffs approaching, particularly with the team’s hobbled defensive corps. Henrik Tallinder’s season remains in jeopardy because of a leg condition, while Anton Volchenkov missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury.

Up Next: Devils vs. Lightning, Thursday at 7 p.m.
Katie Strang covers the NHL for ESPN.com. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
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