Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Kovy Trick Real Treat for Devils

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Kovy Trick Real Treat for Devils

Article excerpt

NEWARK - It was somewhat understandable that Ilya Kovalchuk did not initially recall the first time hats were thrown on the ice in his honor at Prudential Center.

It happened after he scored his first goal as a Devil on Feb. 12, 2010, against Nashville, the fifth game after the Feb. 4, 2010 trade that brought him to New Jersey from Atlanta.

The fans were so happy to see the puck go in for him they treated it as if Kovalchuk had scored three times on that one shot past Pekka Rinne.

"Maybe that's why I couldn't score the hat trick for that long," he joked Thursday night after making the hats rain onto The Rock's ice for the traditional reason with three goals in a 5-1 win over the Islanders.

Patrik Elias and David Clarkson also scored goals and Adam Henrique, Zach Parise and Marek Zidlicky had two assists apiece.

With the win, the Devils equaled their 2010-11 point total with 81 and remained in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of Ottawa (4-1 winners over the Rangers).

Kovalchuk notched the 13th hat trick of his career and his second as a Devil. The first came in a 4-1 win in Buffalo on Feb. 14 of this season.

After that, Kovalchuk went nine games without scoring but now has four goals in the past two games to increase his season total to a team-high 29.

"I liked his play even when he went nine games without scoring," Devils coach Pete DeBoer insisted. "Every night he's been a threat for me for the other team. He's creating offense or room or opportunities. So, the difference between the nights he gets one and the nights he doesn't aren't real big other than a little luck around the net and maybe a little more of a shot mentality."

Kovalchuk has had that shot mentality the past two games. After having a goal, an assist and eight shots on goal in Tuesday's 4-1 win over the Rangers, Kovalchuk had four shots -- and the three goals.

The turning point came after Sunday's 1-0 loss to the Islanders, after which Kovalchuk thought he had been guilty of over-passing a bit and decided, "I'll be a shooter again. …

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