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Ilya Kovalchuk, Devils continue surge with 1-0 win against Rangers

Feb 18, 2011, 10:10 PM EDT

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New York Rangers v New Jersey Devils Getty Images

If the New Jersey Devils make it to the playoffs, a Hollywood studio should instantly green-light a movie in their honor. They could call it “Miracle 2.”

Ilya Kovalchuk and the Devils just won’t bend to the incredible odds stacked against them. In the process, they must be scaring a lot of Eastern Conference bubble teams (and perhaps teams who might end up with one of the top seeds?) with their smoldering-hot run. The left-for-dead team is on a six-game winning streak and earned a stunning 14-1-2 mark in their last 17 games.

The Kovalchuk heckling squad keeps dwindling, as the high-priced Russian scored seven goals and four assists for 11 points in a nine-game scoring streak. It only seems natural that the sniper scored the game’s only (and therefore game-winning) goal. This extends his goal-scoring streak to four games as well.

Kovalchuk scored the deciding goal in four of the last six Devils wins. Talk about a hearty portion of validation for the often-criticized forward.

New Jersey 1, NY Rangers 0

Johan Hedberg earned what has to be one of the easiest shutouts of his career (and his second of the season), stopping only 15 shots to neutralize the Rangers. Henrik Lundqvist was a steady presence for New York as he made 27 saves, but the team in front of him provided zero room for error.

Martin Brodeur is no longer on the Devils’ injured reserve but the team decided to start “The Moose” instead.

The Devils cannot rest on their laurels, though, as they face the Hurricanes in Carolina Saturday night. Both teams will be on the second half of back-to-back games (the Canes earned a 3-2 win against the Philadelphia Flyers) tomorrow, so the Devils have a great opportunity to make things even more interesting in the increasingly convoluted Eastern Conference bubble.

When you consider the fact that several teams are forcing themselves back into the playoff picture, the Rangers might end up kicking themselves for losing games like these.

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