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Five Takeaways from the New Jersey Devils' OT win vs. Minnesota Wild

by Photo of Gil Santos

The Devils squeak past the Wild in OT in Zach Parise’s return to New Jersey.

Five Takeaways from the New Jersey Devils' OT win vs. Minnesota Wild

The New Jersey Devils snap their three-game losing streak and gain a much needed two points with a thrilling overtime victory over former Devil Zach Parise and the Minnesota Wild. The Devils made it harder than it should have been, but they found a way to win to keep themselves relevant in the playoff race. Here are my five takeaways:

1. "Ryding" out the streak: Not only did the Devils broke their three-game losing streak, Michael Ryder ended his 23-game scoring drought when he put in the first goal of the night in the opening period. Head coach Peter DeBeor stuck with the 33-year-old forward throughout the goalless streak and was finally rewarded. Ryder skated into the offensive zone following a line change, Patrik Elias found him open from the half boards and he snapped it past Ilya Bryzgalov. It was Ryder's 17th tally of the year and his first since January 11 against the Florida Panthers.

2. Mental Toughness: The Devils showed a great amount of mental fortitude after they blew yet another two-goal lead in the third period. They were the dominant team for most of the game, forcing the Wild to one and done's in the offensive zone and creating plenty of scoring chances. Things started to fall apart when Wild forward Mikael Granlund scored a fluke goal on Cory Schneider to make it a one-goal game. Then, following a high sticking penalty called on Travis Zajac, Matt Cooke tied it up at 3-3 with a deflection of Marco Scandella's shot from the point. The Devils could have let it bury them like it did against the Florida Panthers on Friday, but they would not be denied. The Devils came back hard following Cooke's goal and almost notched the game-winner in regulation. Travis Zajac nearly made amends for his penalty that led to the equalizer, but his shot hit the post while driving to the net. Luckily, they were able to pull it out in overtime.

3. Clutch Greene: Defenseman Andy Greene tallied yet another memorable game-winning goal for the Devils. Greene seems to always be at the right place at the right time this season. It happened in comeback wins against the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals, and he was at the right place again when the Devils really needed the win. After Greene was able to win the puck from Jason Pominville and Mikko Koivu, he outletted the puck to Elias to start the rush. Elias fed it to Henrique at front of the net and the rebound popped to Greene, who buried it in the open net for the clincher. 

4. The Dynamic Duo: Every time Patrik Elias and Adam Henrique are on the ice together, magic happens. The pair collected assists on three of four of the Devils' goals, including the game winner. DeBeor finally reunited the productive pair after a couple games on separate lines. Henrique has especially benefited with Elias' presence as he recorded his first points in five games. Before the split from Elias, Henrique was red hot after the Olympic Break with 11 points in his first six contests. 

5. Homecoming: Former Devils' captain Zach Parise returned to the Prudential Center for the first time since leaving for Minnesota via free agency in 2012. Parise received an earful of boos throughout the game especially when he touched the puck. To the dismay of Devil fans, he got a goal early in the third period with deflection in front of the net. In seven seasons with the Devils, Parise collected 410 points in 502 games. He also helped led the Devils to their fifth Stanley Cup appearance against the Los Angeles Kings in his final season. 

Other Notes:

• The Devils improve to 30-27-13 and are now five points behind the crosstown New York Rangers for the final Wild Card spot, whom they face on Saturday. 

• The Wild collect a point and fall to 36-23-11 as they sit comfortably six points ahead of the second Wild Card team, the Phoenix Coyotes. 

• Devils' goaltender Cory Schneider also broke his three-game losing streak and stopped 20 of 23 shots. Schneider previously gave up four or more goals in his last three starts. 

• Devils' head coach Peter DeBeor picked up his 200th career NHL victory. 

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