GAME VIDEO

Parise savors first trip to Conference Finals

Wednesday, 05.9.2012 / 3:47 PM ET / Game Video
By Mike G. Morreale  - NHL.com Staff Writer
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Parise savors first trip to Conference Finals

PHILADELPHIA -- New Jersey Devils captain Zach Parise is headed to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in his career.

It might have taken seven seasons, but for the 27-year-old Parise, it was certainly worth the wait.

"This feels really good," Parise said after the Devils advanced by beating Philadelphia 3-1 on Tuesday night to wrap up a five-game series victory. "I don't think there are too many people out there that expected us to be where we are right now. We always thought we could make it here, but you have to have things go right for you and you have to be lucky at the right times and [on Tuesday], we got a lucky bounce on [David Clarkson's] goal, so it was a good sign."

For a player who traditionally pours his heart and soul into every shift when he takes the ice, it's certainly a well-deserved achievement, as it is for a smattering of veterans who have been there and done that, including Stanley Cup winners Martin Brodeur, Patrik Elias and Petr Sykora.

"I think Zach has been playing really good, taking leadership to heart and he's happy to be the captain and happy to lead," Brodeur said. "It's been really nice and for him. Being in this situation and being able to produce the way he does, is great.

"He had a tough run the last six or seven years, where we've gone one round out, two rounds out, one round out," Brodeur continued. "So this is nice for him."

Parise didn't register a point in Game 5, but the emotion and relentless motor were ever present. He logged 19:42 of ice time and generated a team-high five shots.

"This is fun for everybody and we're having a good time, especially after the way things went last year," Parise said. "We're happy to be in the situation we're in. It's a good feeling, but again, we're only halfway there. We know it's only going to get harder from this point."

Parise was one of five players on the team to appear in all 82 games this season and was second behind Ilya Kovalchuk with 31 goals -- becoming just the second player in team history to record five 30-goal seasons. It's quite a turnaround after Parise missed 69 games due to injury in 2010-11, when the Devils failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in 14 seasons.

"He's a great leader and has done a lot in this locker room," Clarkson said. "He's had leaders to follow like Jamie Langenbrunner, who won before, so Zach's done a phenomenal job all season. He leads by the way he plays out there. It's not hard not to play all out when you see how hard he's working."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - MTL 76 47 21 8 200 169 102
2 x - NYR 75 47 21 7 228 177 101
3 TBL 76 46 23 7 244 198 99
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 DET 75 40 23 12 220 206 92
7 WSH 76 41 25 10 223 188 92
8 BOS 76 38 25 13 201 196 89
9 OTT 75 37 26 12 218 203 86
10 FLA 76 35 26 15 190 207 85
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 75 36 35 4 207 232 76
13 NJD 76 31 33 12 168 194 74
14 CAR 75 28 36 11 174 204 67
15 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
16 BUF 75 20 47 8 144 254 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Henrique 69 16 24 -3 40
M. Cammalleri 62 25 13 3 38
P. Elias 63 11 21 -16 32
S. Gomez 52 7 24 -7 31
S. Bernier 61 13 14 3 27
T. Zajac 68 11 12 -4 23
A. Larsson 58 3 19 3 22
A. Greene 76 3 18 3 21
M. Ryder 47 6 13 -1 19
E. Gelinas 56 6 11 -3 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 26 28 8 .928 2.19
K. Kinkaid 5 5 3 .918 2.47