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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 WSH 51 38 9 4 166 114 80
2 FLA 52 31 15 6 143 115 68
3 NYR 52 29 18 5 148 134 63
4 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 NYI 51 27 18 6 143 127 60
7 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
8 PIT 51 26 18 7 132 130 59
9 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
10 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
11 MTL 54 26 24 4 143 143 56
12 PHI 51 23 19 9 121 133 55
13 OTT 53 24 23 6 148 165 54
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
L. Stempniak 53 15 24 7 39
M. Cammalleri 42 14 24 15 38
K. Palmieri 53 20 15 3 35
A. Henrique 51 17 16 14 33
T. Zajac 45 7 18 6 25
D. Schlemko 45 6 9 -9 15
A. Larsson 53 2 11 12 13
D. Severson 50 1 12 0 13
A. Greene 53 4 6 2 10
J. Josefson 42 3 7 -13 10
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 23 15 6 .929 2.03
K. Kinkaid 3 5 1 .909 2.52
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