Russian hockey star, Ilya Kovalchuk, will play in the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in his career after the New Jersey Devils collected a 3-2 overtime against the New York Rangers in the deciding match of the semis.
The Devils scored twice in the opening period of Game 7 of the NHL’s Eastern Conference finals.
Ryan Carter gave the hosts the lead, before Ilya Kovalchuk doubled New Jersey’s advantage on a powerplay.
But it was all Rangers in the second 20 minutes, with Ruslan Fedotenko of Ukraine and Ryan Callahan making it 2-2.
The third period was goalless and the game went to overtime, in which the in-form Kovalchuk assisted to Adam Henrique for the game winner after just over a minute of play.
The Russian spent nearly 21 minutes on the ice to finish with a game-high of six shots on goal.
"You know, we're in the Stanley Cup Final for a reason," Kovalchuk told NHL.com. "They were really good on the road all playoffs long, but I don't think they faced a team like us yet."
"It feels good. It's a big event. I think it's the biggest event I've ever been in in my NHL career so far. I'm just going to enjoy it,” the 29-year-old added.
Kovalchuk currently leads the scoring race in the Stanley Cup playoffs with 18 points (7 goals and 11 assists).
The Devils will take on the Los Angeles Kings in the finals, which they will begin at home.
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