Jacques Lemaire didn't like very much about the New Jersey Devils' first game with Martin Brodeur sidelined with a sprained right knee, except the final score.
Rookie Mattias Tedenby scored his second goal of the game 2:42 into overtime and the Devils continued their winning ways without Brodeur by beating the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 on Tuesday night for their 10th win in 13 games (10-1-2).
"I don't think the effort was there," Lemaire said. "I didn't like the way we played. I didn't like our top players. I didn't like the guys who had the day off yesterday. I didn't like some of our defencemen. I didn't like a lot of stuff."
This clearly wasn't the Devils' best effort since they started their run on Jan. 9. They took the first two periods off and forced overtime by taking 19 shots in the third period and getting a tying goal from Nick Palmieri —another rookie —with 2:54 to play.
Tedenby's game-winner was New Jersey's only shot in overtime and it was set up by Travis Zajac and goaltender Johan Hedberg, who made 20 saves while filling in for Brodeur, who is listed as day-to-day with a sprained right knee.
"The confidence is definitely higher than the first couple of months," Hedberg said after New Jersey moved within 15 points of a playoff spot following a dreadful start. "This is probably a game we would have lost earlier in the year. It was great to come back and get this one with the young guys getting the goals."
Tedenby was the story. He was benched for the third period in New Jersey's win Sunday over Montreal, the game in which Brodeur was hurt. He attended an optional skate Monday and then took his option not to skate Tuesday morning, something that surprised some of the veterans.
"It feels better for me than it did before," said Tedenby, also benched for six games in January because of his lacklustre play. "I think I've learned a lot the last couple of weeks. It's been a good experience for me as a first-year player. I thought I did pretty good tonight, so I got the chance to play."
Rookie Jeff Skinner had two goals for Carolina, which moved a point ahead of idle Atlanta in the race for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.
"When you have a lead like that, you're supposed to win the game," said Skinner, who leads all NHL rookies with 43 points. "We didn't play a sharp game tonight. The puck was bouncing everywhere. They have a lot of talent and they're playing a solid style of hockey right now."
Tedenby's game-winner came on a counter attack. The Swede took a pass from Zajac, skated between the circles and zipped a shot past Cam Ward for his seventh goal of the season.
"I just drove to the net and didn't want to get a bad angle on the shot," Tedenby said. "Zajac brought it in and gave me a lot of time to get the opportunity to shoot. I just wanted to put the puck on net and tried to score."
Palmieri forced overtime by backhanding the rebound of Ilya Kovalchuk's shot. The Russian skated through the Hurricanes' defence to take the shot and set up Palmieri.
"At that point, all four guys were looking at Kovie, so I figured they weren't paying too much attention to me," Palmieri said after scoring his fifth goal in 15 games. "I was just going to the net to look for the rebound."
New Jersey had three great chances to win in regulation, but Ward stopped a backhander by Jason Arnott with 2:12 left, made a glove save on Andy Greene with 45 seconds to go and turned in a brilliant save in close on Patrik Elias with 14.4 seconds remaining.
Skinner, who also scored two goals in a 6-3 New Year's Day win over New Jersey, seemingly scored the winner at 8:37 of the third period with his second power-play goal of the game.
Just six seconds after Anton Volchenkov got his third minor penalty of the game —the only three by New Jersey —Skinner tallied his 20th of the season by tapping in the rebound of a shot by Eric Staal.
Hedberg is going to have to play well if the Devils want to continue their run with Brodeur out, and Skinner's first goal wasn't a good one from that standpoint.
Skinner broke into the Devils' zone after taking a pass from Joe Corvo and beat Hedberg with a shot from low in the left circle that seemed to graze off the goalie's jersey and into the net at 9:22 of the second. It was Carolina's first shot of the period.
Tedenby tied the game a little more than two minutes later after being set up right in front of Ward by a no-look pass from Arnott.