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Schwei On Ice: On The Road Again

By John Schweibacher
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The Devils have finally won a home game and now they will try to put together consecutive wins for the first time in the 2010-11 season this week.

Ilya Kovalchuk's overtime goal gave New Jersey their first home-ice win of the season Friday night. The goal was Kovalchuk's 8th OT tally of his career, tied for 7th among active NHL players:

· Patrik Elias 15

· Olli Jokinen 12

· Brendan Morrison 10

· Mike Modano 9

· Teemu Selanne 9

· Milan Hejduk 9

· Joe Thornton 8

· Marc Savard 8

· Ilya Kovalchuk 8

The overtime win was also New Jersey's first win when trailing after two periods as well as trailing by two or more goals since Kovalchuk's Devils' debut back on February 5th against the Toronto Maple Leafs. That night, New Jersey fell behind the Leafs, 3-1, in the second period but rallied with three goals in the final 3:04 of the 3rd period for the come-from-behind win.

Devils rookies Alexander Vasyunov and Mattias Tedenby each scored their first NHL goal in New Jersey's 4-3 overtime win against the Oilers this past Friday night. It was the first time that two Devils players recorded their first NHL goal in the same game since October 12th, 1995, when Denis Pederson and Jason Smith both registered their 1st career goals in a 4-1 Devils win against the Winnipeg Jets in New Jersey. Pederson's goal gave the Devils a 2-0, 1st period lead that night and stood up as the game-winner. Smith's was an empty-netter to seal the victory with :38 seconds left in the 3rd.

Tedenby became the 8th Devils player to make his NHL debut this year; the most New Jersey has had in one season since 1991-92 when they also had eight rookies appear in their first career games. This season's crop is already on its way to appearing in more games in their debut seasons than the group from 19 years ago:

1991-92 NJD Debuts GP 2010-11 NJD Debuts GP

· Valeri Zelepukin 44 Matt Taormina 17

· Alexander Semak 25 Olivier Magnan 11

· Bill Guerin 5 Alexander Vasyunov 8

· Martin Brodeur 4 Alexander Urbom 7

· Scott Niedermayer 4 Jacob Josefson 6

· Jeff Christian 2 Brad Mills 4

· Chad Erickson 2 Stephen Gionta 3

· Jim Dowd 1 Mattias Tedenby 2

Vasyunov shares a unique distinction with some of his new teammates; he is one of four current Devils players who were born on the same day on which New Jersey played a game. Vasyunov was born on April 22nd, 1988. The Devils defeated the Capitals 10-4 that night at the Meadowlands in Game 3 of the Patrick Division Finals. The 10-goal outburst remains the club record for goals in a post-season game and Patrik Sundstrom set a Devils-playoff record with eight points; scoring three goals and adding five assists. Here are the four current Devils who were born on the same day the club played a game:

NJD Player Birthdate Devils result

· Andy Greene 10/30/82 8-5 Loss at NY Islanders

· Matt Corrente 3/17/88 4-3 Loss vs. Quebec

· Alexander Vasyunov 4/22/88 10-4 Playoff Win vs. Washington

· Alexander Urbom 12/20/90 3-3 Tie at Philadelphia

Edmonton's Sam Gagner scored his first goal in three career games against Martin Brodeur in the Oilers' overtime loss to the Devils on Friday night. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Sam's father, Dave, who played 15 seasons in the NHL, scored four goals in ten games against Brodeur. The Gagners are the second father/son duo each to score goals against Brodeur, joining Thomas Steen (one goal) and son Alex (three).

Dave Gagner's 4th and final career goal against Brodeur came back on February 9th, 1999 in a 4-3 New Jersey loss to the Vancouver Canucks at the Meadowlands. Three other current Devils besides Brodeur; Brian Rolston, Jason Arnott and Patrik Elias, played in that game just as they did the other night.

Thomas Steen's lone career goal against Brodeur came back on October 12th, 1993 in a 7-4 Devils victory over the Winnipeg Jets in New Jersey. No current Devils other than Brodeur played in that game but head coach John MacLean did, scoring a goal in the win.

This week the Devils hit the road for games against the Bruins, Maple Leafs and Blues. New Jersey lost its lone meeting of the season so far against the Bruins, 4-1, back on October 16th at Prudential Center. The Devils won both contests in Boston last season.

New Jersey will be facing the Maple Leafs for the first time this season when the two clubs meet at Air Canada Centre Thursday night. The Devils lost both of their games with the Leafs in Toronto last season, scoring just one goal in the two contests against Toronto goalie J.S. Giguere.

The Devils finish the three-game road trip Saturday night in St. Louis. New Jersey has won its last four road games against the Blues. The last time the Devils lost a game in St. Louis was back on January 25th, 2001, a 4-3 overtime loss with Pierre Turgeon scoring the game-winner for the Blues. St. Louis took the lone meeting between the two clubs last season, a 1-0 win in Newark with Ty Conklin in goal.

Schwei's Plus/Minus:

Plus: Power-Play. Devils have gone 3-for-5 over last two games with the man-advantage.

Minus: More injuries. Captain Jamie Langenbrunner misses Oilers game after crashing head-first into boards during previous game against Sabres and Matt Taormina suffers ankle injury in Sunday practice.

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