NEWARK, N.J. -- It was a very happy belated birthday for
That was the whole idea behind Kovalchuk's arrival to the Devils in January. The former Atlanta Thrashers franchise player was looking for a place where winning -- and winning deep into the springtime -- would be a possibility. In seven seasons, the gifted winger had only the slightest glimpse of playoff hockey. In 2007, his Thrashers were swiftly swept by the Rangers in the first round; in those four games, he had just one goal and one assist. On Friday, he bettered that mark with a goal and two assists. It was a slight relief to see Kovalchuk contribute -- his fancy game of keep-away at the blueline during the power play set up
Surely, he's heard about how the game is ratcheted up during the playoffs (who hasn't?), how it becomes more physical, more intense, more everything. But taking three penalties, including a two-minute minor for tussling with Flyer
"I like Kovy," coach
• Aside from the calls on Kovalchuk, which were pretty obvious, there were others that didn't seem quite so clear-cut. "I thought we had some unfortunate calls against us,"
• New Jersey went 0-for-5 on the power play in Game 1, and didn't score until 57 minutes into the game Wednesday night -- a
• It seems a little symbolic that nobody really knows who scored the game-winner Friday night. An organization that is known for its team-first, individuals-second mentality, it seems only fitting that