In a marquee matchup between Ilya Kovalchuk and Alex Ovechkin, the two Russian stars did not disappoint. [...] But it was 22-year-old Russian Andrei Loktionov who arguably had the best night of all. Loktionov, acquired in a Feb. 6 trade with the Los Angeles Kings for two draft picks,
Hmm. Only one pick, as far as I know.
scored his first goal for the Devils and sparked their comeback [...].
“I scored a goal I think will help me play better and better and feel more comfortable,” said Loktionov, playing in his second game for the Devils. “I’m so glad to score a goal. It was a very important goal, too.”
The Devils were trailing, 2-1, when coach Pete DeBoer made some changes in the third period. He put Loktionov between wingers Alexei Ponikarovsky and Stephen Gionta and it paid off.
Loktionov won the faceoff with Mike Ribeiro in the right circle, getting the puck back to Adam Larsson. The defenseman put a shot on net through a crowd and the rebound came to Loktionov, who scored at a sharp angle from below the right circle.
Wasn’t really a sharp angle, but okay.
“I think it was right on my tape. The goalie did a good job,” Loktionov said with a laugh.
DeBoer explained the line juggling.[...] “I thought we needed a little bit of a spark [...] and he (Loktionov) did a good job of taking advantage of his opportunity. It’s a big goal. He made some good plays. He gave us a real good contribution tonight.” [...] Asked if it was important to end their slide, Kovalchuk said: “I don’t want to say it was a slide. We just lost one game in overtime. But we didn’t play well for the last couple of games. It wasn’t our best game tonight, either.”
It was, however, a big one for Loktionov. “He’s good. He’s a hard-working guy. It took a little while to show Pete (DeBoer) how good a player he is,” Kovalchuk said. “I think he has more trust now. The last five minutes he was out there for a couple of shifts.”
Loktionov couldn’t have been happier. “I was maybe a little bit lucky to score a goal,” he said. “I hope everything is going to be good. [...]“