Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Kovalchuk Protects and Serves in Win

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Kovalchuk Protects and Serves in Win

Article excerpt

PHILADELPHIA - What looked like it was going to be a ho-hum, easy victory for the Devils on Saturday afternoon at Wells Fargo Center turned into one their crazier games of the season.

Up by six goals through two periods, the Devils had to survive a frantic third-period surge by the Philadelphia Flyers for a 6-4 win.

What will probably emerge as the most memorable moment was Ilya Kovalchuk's right-hand cross that knocked down Flyers rookie Brayden Schenn in their fight with 8:22 left in the third period.

The Devils still were comfortably ahead, 6-2, at the time. Flyers instigator Zac Rinaldo, who angered the Devils with a late hit on center Jacob Josefson in the second period, appeared to kick Devils captain Zach Parise's skates out from under him after play had been whistled dead.

Kovalchuk and Bryce Salvador immediately went after Rinaldo and grabbed him in the left corner where all 10 skaters gathered.

Salvador ended up wrestling with Rinaldo and Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov was grabbed by Wayne Simmonds. Schenn pulled Kovalchuk aside.

"I asked him, 'So, what are you going to do?' " Kovalchuk said. "He said, 'Fight you' and I said, 'OK.' "

Kovalchuk was in control in the bout from the start. Schenn lost his balance at one point as the players spun around and dropped to his knees briefly, but got up quickly and continued throwing punches. That's when Kovalchuk connected with a clean right to Schenn's left cheek that dropped him to the ice.

That completed what Kovalchuk said was his first Gordie Howe hat trick (goal, assist, fight). Kovalchuk had a goal and two assists.

"He did a great job," Parise said. "It was a great fight. He's done it before. We know he can scrap and he did a really good job."

According to hockeyfights.com, Kovalchuk has had nine fights in his 11-season NHL career. Kovalchuk said he's never had a clean knockdown in a fight like the one on Schenn.

"Not like that, but it's part of the game," he said. "Sometimes you get lucky. …

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