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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 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
K. Palmieri 82 30 27 3 57
A. Henrique 80 30 20 10 50
T. Zajac 74 14 28 3 42
M. Cammalleri 42 14 24 15 38
D. Severson 72 1 20 -8 21
R. Boucher 39 8 11 -13 19
D. Schlemko 67 6 13 -22 19
J. Moore 73 4 15 -12 19
A. Larsson 82 3 15 15 18
J. Blandisi 41 5 12 -14 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 27 25 6 .924 2.15
K. Kinkaid 9 9 1 .904 2.81
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