Jersey Score: Crazy bounce helps Wild beat Devils 2-1
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For years, hockey coaches have preached that good things happen when you shoot the puck. For the Minnesota Wild, just dumping the puck made good things happen on Tuesday.
The Wild notched an improbable 2-1 win over the New Jersey Devils in Newark via Clayton Stoner's first NHL goal. And he was on the bench by the time the puck eventually crossed the goal line.
The game was tied 1-1 in the third period when Stoner dumped the puck down into the Devils' zone and headed to the bench. New Jersey goalie Johan Hedberg, expecting the puck to ring around the boards, went behind the Devils net to stop the puck. But that frozen rubber disk does funny things sometimes, and on this night it took an unexpected carom off the boards, and slid over the goal line before Hedberg could get back in front of the net.
It capped off a night in New Jersey that was strange on many levels. First, long-time Wild coach Jacques Lemaire was on the opponents' bench, having recently started his third sting coaching the floundering Devils, who fired former coach John MacLean in December. Second, these were something akin to the pseudo-Devils, with one prominent Minnesotan (Paul Martin) now playing in Pittsburg, another star Minnesotan (Zach Parise) injured, and legendary goalie Martin Brodeur watching from the bench.
Those absences, and a first-period goal by Cal Clutterbuck during a 20-minute stretch where the Wild had a 8-1 advantage in shots, added up to produce the franchise's first-ever win in the Garden State. The decision to sit Brodeur, the NHL's all-time leader in wins and shutouts, was controversial, but Lemaire defended the move.
"My thinking: Win a game," Lemaire told the New York Daily News of his decision to bench Brodeur. "I went with Marty (in the last game) and I didn't win. Come back with (Hedberg) and we'll see."
The Wild's choice of goalies was a simpler one, with Niklas Backstrom still dealing with a nagging injury he suffered in practice. Jose Theodore got his second consecutive start in goal and got the win, number 251 of his career, with 21 saves.
The Wild's eastern swing continues on Thursday with a stop in Boston to play the Bruins.