NEWARK, N.J. (KDKA/AP) — Ilya Kovalchuk scored on a power play with 24.9 seconds left in overtime and the New Jersey Devils continued their remarkable playoff push with a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night.
The goal was the second straight winner for the $100 million man, his sixth in the last 12 games and his ninth of the season.
The goal came near the end of a penalty assessed to Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek for hooking.
The win was New Jersey’s 19th in their last 23 games (19-2-2) and handed the injury-ravaged Penguins their eighth loss in 10 games (2-5-3).
After a scoreless first period, Travis Zajac scored on a great individual effort to give New Jersey a 1-0 lead at 3:43.
Zajac picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone, skated into the Pittsburgh end, split Michalek and fellow defenseman Paul Martin and beat Brent Johnson with a backhander for his 10th goal of the season.
Tyler Kennedy was the recipient of a fortunate bounce off of a linesman before ripping a wrist shot by Martin Brodeur to tie the game at the 5:58 mark of the second period.
The Penguins, who played most of the game with five defenseman after Kris Letang got an early game misconduct for not tying down his jersey, blocked most of the Devils chances until Brent Johnson made an amazing sliding save on Patrik Elias near the left corner of the net.
Johnson could not regain his footing and the puck came out to Kovalchuk between the circles for a shot into a wide-open net that allowed the Devils to celebrate again.
Both teams had chances to break the tie in the third period. Brian Rolston came the closest when he hit the crossbar with just over four minutes to play after being set up by kick pass from Dainius Zubrus.
Kennedy probably had the Penguins best chance, handcuffing Brodeur, who had 25 saves, with a shot from the right circle early in the period.
Devils rookie Nick Palmieri hit the crossbar midway through the second period, while Johnson, who made 28 saves, had four good saves with the toughest being stops on Elias and Jacob Josefson.
The Penguins will look to get back on track Saturday night when they conclude a five-game road trip against the Boston Bruins.