Kovalchuk scored on a power play with 24.9 seconds left in overtime and Martin Brodeur made 25 saves as the Devils continued their remarkable playoff push with a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night.
“Marty was really good,” Devils coach Jacques Lemaire said. “Not as much Kovy. Kovy scored the big goal. That’s what he is getting paid for, but tonight I know he can play better. He can play better.”
The goal was the second straight winner for Kovalchuk, his sixth in the last 12 games and his ninth of the season.
“I’m not doing anything differently,” said Kovalchuk, whose giveaway set up the Penguins’ goal by Tyler Kennedy. “I just knew we would get our chance in the end. I gave the puck away on the goal in the second period and I felt like I had to do something to get it back. I think the team is finding me in key situations. I think every hockey player wants to be in that kind of situation in overtime, getting a power play. I’m just glad I got the chance to end it.”
Kovalchuk’s 23rd goal of the season gave New Jersey its 19th win in 23 games (19-2-2) and handed the injury ravaged Penguins their eighth loss in 10 games (2-5-3).
New Jersey is nine points behind eighth-place Carolina.