Devils coach Pete DeBoer cracked up laughing when someone asked him if he felt the need to play Ilya Kovalchuk in shorthanded situations in Saturday's 3-2 shootout win over Nashville because the winger hadn't played enough in the game.

"For me, he's earning our trust," DeBoer said of Kovalchuk, who is the team's leading scorer with two goals and two assists in four games. "He's a guy that we can use in a lot of different situations. Through four games here, he's been out with the net empty at the other end in a five-on-six situation and got the job done. He obviously is dangerous every time he's on the ice and we're going to give him some responsibility on the penalty kill, too. There are nights in the year where you're sitting, killing penalties for eight or 10 minutes, and a guy like that can't get cold for that long."