One of the NHL's accepted truisms is that Ilya Kovalchuk is a preeminent sniper.
The fact he's scored 406 goals in 779 games, including nine consecutive seasons of 30 or more goals, is proof enough that Kovalchuk knows how to put the puck in the back of the net.
But the biggest play Kovalchuk made in the Devils' 5-3 win over the New York Rangers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden wasn't scoring a goal. Instead, it was Kovalchuk delivering a hit while skating with fourth-liners Stephen Gionta and Ryan Carter.
The superstar left wing leveled Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto with a thunderous check that set up Carter's winning goal with 4:24 left in regulation. It was a play that will not show up in the box score, but it was as important as any made on the Garden ice Wednesday.
Except it probably should not have happened.
"I believe it was a line-change situation. I believe that's what led to it, but I can't even be sure on that," ...