The Devils traded for Ilya Kovalchuk at the 2010 trade deadline, and after signing him to a 15 year, $100 million deal the following summer, committed to Kovalchuk as the future of the organization. To this point, Kovalchuk hasn't disappointed.
Kovalchuk put up 27 points in 27 games for the Devils after coming over from the Atlanta Thrashers before adding six points in five playoff games. Last season's disappointing season in Jersey didn't stop Kovalchuk from posting his eighth straight 30-goal season.
Last night, Kovalchuk scored his 31st of the year, and the 400th of his career, the difference-maker in a 1-0 win over the Ottawa Senators.
Kovalchuk's powerplay tally was the lone blemish in an impressive night in a 33-save effort for Ben Bishop. Johan Hedberg was just a bit better, stopping 34 shots for his fourth shutout of the season.
Kovalchuk's 400 goals in 771 gmes is the third fastest among active players, behind only Teemu Selanne and Jaromir Jagr.
With the win, New Jersey pushed their lead over the Senators to five points over Ottawa for sixth in the Eastern Conference.