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11.23 Notes and Quotes

Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 2:18 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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11.23 Notes and Quotes
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Zach Parise knows the Devils have to play better with the lead.

They've jumped out to 3-0 cushions in each of their last two games only to watch them evaporate. Saturday in Tampa Bay, the Lightning closed to within a goal, 3-2, before the Devils added an insurance marker for a 4-2 win.

But Monday in Florida, the Panthers scored four unanswered goals for a 4-3 comeback win.

"We played a good first period of hockey," Parise said. "We did good things, did things pretty decent. But again, we had some breakdowns at the end and I guess the coaches watched the game again and said, I don't know if it's by nature or what, but we not necessarily sat back, but we weren't as aggressive as we were. I think that gave them more time to make some plays."

The five-game road trip produced a 3-2 mark and six of a possible 10 points. The Devils (10-8-1) beat Washington in a shootout, battled to a one-goal loss versus the defending champs in Boston, topped Buffalo by a pair and wound up snapping Tampa Bay's six-game home winning streak.

"We played some really good teams and had great chances to beat every single one of them," said Parise. "It's a matter of, and I don't like using the cliché 'play 60 minutes,' but I think that's what it was for us. We need to play the same style the whole game."

The Devils are back at the Rock tonight to take on Columbus – their first home game since Nov. 11.

"It has been a while since we've been here. We like playing at home and it'll be fun," said the captain. 

No doubt Parise and the Devils are thankful for Wednesday's news that Travis Zajac could start practicing again in two weeks. Zajac has yet to play this season while recovering from offseason Achilles tendon surgery.

It's personally encouraging for Parise, who has enjoyed tremendous past success with Zajac as his center.

"For sure it is," he said. "We've played well together in the past. There's no point in even trying to predict what the lines would be because we still have a long time before he comes back, but I guess it's no secret that we play pretty well together."

Ilya Kovalchuk, who has two goals in three games since returning from a lower body injury, said the timing couldn't be better.

"It'll be the perfect time because now, if you look at the standings, everybody's real close and every point means a lot," Kovalchuk explained.

Anton Volchenkov will play tonight. He left Monday's game in Florida after taking a hard hit from Shawn Matthias at the 2:38 mark of the first period.

A cut on his upper lip required "five or six" stitches, according to the bruising blueliner. No penalty was called, and Matthias did not receive any additional discipline from the League.

"It looks bad, but I'm not sure this guy tried to hit me in the head. It's an accident," Volchenkov said, adding, "It's pretty dangerous."

Dainius Zubrus will be recognized before tonight's game for his 1,000th NHL appearance last Wednesday in Buffalo.
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