It wasn't easy for the offensive superstar to sit out Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, not only because his presence in the lineup makes his team that much better, but also because he has waited a long time to have an impact in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
When No. 17 returned to action Thursday night for Game 3, Kovalchuk was determined to not just play but to make a difference, too.
Kovalchuk set up the Devils' first goal by Patrik Elias, scored in the second period, and then made a brilliant pass in overtime to Alexei Ponikarovsky, who scored the winning goal at 17:21 to give the Devils a 4-3 victory Thursday and a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
The Devils won 4-1 in Philadelphia on Tuesday in Game 2 without Kovalchuk, and grabbed the series lead in their first home game of the series. New Jersey will also host Game 4 on Sunday and will look to take a commanding lead over its Atlantic Division rival.
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