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Rapid Reaction: Devils 3, Islanders 2 (OT)

3/13/2011

Recap | Box score | Photos

WHAT IT MEANS: The New Jersey Devils earned yet another heart-stopping overtime victory. What else is new? On Friday night, it was Travis Zajac with the winner. On Saturday night, it was Anssi Salmela. Yes, Anssi Salmela. The young defenseman roofed a high shot past Islanders goaltender Al Montoya with just 1:51 remaining in overtime, giving the Devils a 3-2 win at the Prudential Center. It was Salmela's first goal of the season.

New Jersey (32-32-4) has now won two and a row and moved to .500 for the first time since the first game of the season (0-0-1). The Devils' last nine games have decided by one goal; they're 7-2-0 in those games. New Jersey now has 68 points and 14 games remaining to make up ground in the Eastern Conference playoff race; the Devils are currently six points off the pace in the playoff race.

Meanwhile, the Islanders lost for just the third time in their last 11 games (8-3-0).

DUELING NETMINDERS: Both Martin Brodeur and Montoya were strong between the pipes. Neither deserved to lose; despite making 32 saves, Montoya did. Brodeur, 6-1-0 in his last seven starts, earned the victory in goal. He made just 13 stops.

TURNING POINT: When Brodeur stoned Michael Grabner on a breakaway with less than 15 minutes remaining in the third period following Mark Fayne's dubbed pass from the point. Shortly after, David Clarkson followed with a goal at 5:42 that tied the score at 2-2. Clarkson's first shot in the high slot was stopped by Montoya, but he stayed with it and jammed home the rebound out in front for his 10th goal of the season.

SECOND-PERIOD WOES: Blake Comeau and John Tavares scored to give the Islanders the lead in the second period. Comeau's 20th of the season tied the score just 1:13 in as he slid a backhander by Brodeur after Jack Hillen blocked Ilya Kovalchuk's point shot to setup a 2-on-1 opportunity. Then, after the Islanders won faceoff in the Devils' end, Andrew MacDonald's shot from the left point was deflected by Tavares shortside to make it 2-1 at 6:44. It was Tavares' 25th goal of the season. The middle frame has continued to haunt the Devils. Although they’ve been a lot better in the second half, New Jersey has still been outscored 71-45 in the second.

HAVE A DAY KID: Saturday night will be a game 20-year-old pivot Jacob Josefson will never forget, because you don’t forget the night of your first NHL goal. Josefson got his just 1:57 into the game. After beating Bruno Gervais for a puck behind the net, Josefson banked a shot off Montoya's left skate to put the Devils up 1-0. "It's a great feeling," Josefson said during the first intermission. "Scoring my first NHL goal is a dream. It was a lucky bounce, but it doesn't matter."

It was New Jersey's first goal scored in the first period since Feb. 19, snapping an eight-game drought. That score stood up at the end of the first 20 minutes, meaning the Devils extended their modern NHL record to 16 games without allowing a goal in the opening frame. We're guessing interim coach Jacques Lemaire isn't going to refer to the first period as "awful."

UP NEXT: The Devils skate against the Atlanta Thrashers at home on Tuesday night. And they'll be rooting for the Islanders to beat the New York Rangers -- one of the teams New Jersey is chasing in the standings -- at Madison Square Garden that evening.

You can follow Mike Mazzeo on Twitter: @MazzESPN