(Sports Network) - Coming off their first victory of the season, the New Jersey Devils will try to keep heading in the right direction when they host the Colorado Avalanche tonight at Prudential Center.
The Devils started the year with an 0-2-1 mark, but were finally able to record a win Wednesday night in Buffalo. New Jersey will now try to earn its first home win of the year tonight. The Devils are 0-1-1 so far in Newark after going 27-10-4 at the Rock last year.
Ilya Kovalchuk, who signed a 15-year, $100 million deal with the Devils this offseason, scored his first goal of the season 53 seconds into overtime to lift New Jersey over the Sabres, 1-0.
Kovalchuk tallied 41 goals in 76 combined games with Atlanta and New Jersey last season and has 339 markers in eight-plus NHL seasons.
Jamie Langenbrunner controlled the puck at center ice and slid a pass to the right circle for Matt Taormina. Kovalchuk trailed the play and was set up perfect for a one-timer that gave rookie head coach John MacLean and the Devils their first win of the year.
"It's always good to get the first one out of the way," MacLean said. "I'm more excited how they played tonight. It's short-lived in the regular season so you have to enjoy it right now, but get ready for the next one."
Martin Brodeur, the NHL's all-time leader in wins and shutouts, made 24 saves to record the 603rd victory and 111th shutout of his career.
The Devils have battled injuries early on this year and the club recently received some bad news concerning forward Brian Rolston. The veteran winger underwent sports hernia surgery and has been placed on injured reserve. Rolston, who had 20 goals for New Jersey last year, is expected to miss 4-to-6 weeks of action.
New Jersey defenseman Anton Volchenkov is also expected to miss tonight's game with a broken nose suffered Saturday in Washington. The Devils have recalled forwards Jacob Josefson and Tim Sestito and defenseman Matt Corrente from their AHL affiliate in Albany and the trio is expected to skate for the big club tonight.
The Avalanche are 2-1-0 on the year and are coming off a road win over the Detroit Red Wings. Colorado earned a 5-4 victory Tuesday in Motown to bounce back from the previous night's 4-2 setback in Philadelphia. The Avs are playing the third test of a five-game road trip tonight and will complete the swing with games against the Islanders and Rangers.
Brandon Yip scored the only goal of the shootout to lift Colorado past the Red Wings. It took six shootout rounds before Yip finally won it for the Avs.
"We fought back and we played well 5-on-5," said Yip. "Good teams find a way to win, and we got the job done tonight."
David Jones scored twice, while Ryan O'Reilly and Daniel Winnik also tallied in the victory. Peter Budaj filled in for No. 1 goaltender Craig Anderson and earned the win with 24 saves. Anderson is expected to resume his starting role tonight.
The Avalanche posted a 3-1 win over the Devils in Denver last season, but New Jersey is 3-1-1 with a tie in the last six meetings between the clubs. Colorado has also lost two of its last three games in the Garden State.