Devils 4, Penguins 1 (F)
Zajac got the scoring going for New Jersey in the second period.
With every big save he makes and every win he collects along the way, Scott Clemmensen adds another feel-good moment to what has become a special chapter of the Devils' 2008-09 season.
Facing high-powered Pittsburgh Wednesday, Clemmensen posted 26 saves and blanked the Penguins for more than 56 minutes en route to a 4-1 triumph at Prudential Center.
Clemmensen notched his seventh victory of the season as the Devils took their third straight win, and eighth in the last nine games. The 31-year-old netminder has allowed just four goals during New Jersey's current winning streak.
, Zach Parise
and Dainius Zubrus
scored for the Devils, who took a 3-0 lead in the third period before Matt Cooke ended Clemmensen's shutout bid with 3:58 left in regulation. Patrik Elias
added an empty-netter with 40.2 seconds remaining.
Clemmensen, who came within 11:18 of his third career shutout on Nov. 20 versus Florida, recorded his last on March 26, 2004 at Atlanta, a span of 33 appearances. He has started 10 of 15 games since four-time Vezina Trophy winner Martin Brodeur
was lost to an elbow injury on Nov. 1.
After starting the season in Lowell (AHL), Clemmensen has doubled his career wins total as a Devil. Drafted with the club's seventh choice in 1997, he entered the year with an 7-6-4 mark in 25 appearances with New Jersey.
"We played a very solid game here tonight," said head coach Brent Sutter. "We did a real good job. We played smart. Basically, we played a solid game. We never gave much. When there was something there, Clemmer did a real good job."
Evgeni Malkin, the league's leading sniper, was held to one assist, while Sidney Crosby, second to Malkin on the NHL scoring list, saw his points streak snapped at seven games. Devils penalty killers were perfect in three chances, shutting down a Penguins power play that had connected at least once in three straight games (4-for-13).
"We just did what we had to as far as having to compete against [Crosby]. He's a highly-competitive player with a tremendous amount of skill. [Dainius] Zubrus' line played a lot against him tonight and did a very good job. We used Travis [Zajac] a lot against [Evgeni] Malkin. Our so-called compete level against them was good."
In their first home game since Nov. 21, the Devils (15-8-2) secured two important points against a division foe and improved to 5-4-1 within the Atlantic. Their three-game homestand continues Friday against the New York Rangers and Saturday against the Buffalo Sabres.
Some 4-on-4 action early in the first period produced the game's first scoring chances. With David Clarkson
and Maxime Talbot off for roughing, Elias ripped a shot from the left circle that caromed off Pens' goalie Dany Sabourin, then bounced off the top of the cage before it was gloved away from the goal line by defenseman Kris Letang at 4:20.
Malkin then turned the play up ice into Devils' territory, and left for Brooks Orpik who missed wide with a slapper from the blue line. Jordan Staal collected for a shot from the right circle that clanged off the left post at 4:58.
The Devils took advantage of another 4-on-4 in the second period to take a 1-0 lead.
Zajac carried into the Pittsburgh zone for a snapshot from the top of the left circle that drifted wide left of the goal. Sabourin, who made 28 saves, misplayed the bounce off the end boards, and was caught out of the net as Zajac grabbed his own carom to tap the puck into the open net at 17:39.
The goal was Zajac's fifth of the season, and third in his last seven contests. Colin White
assisted, and finished with two helpers to move within two points of 100 for his career.
The Devils quickly made it 2-0 in the third on Parise's team-leading 16th of the season. Jamie Langenbrunner
passed out of the left corner to Bryce Salvador
at the point for a wrister that Parise redirected from the left circle at 2:18. Parise extended his goal streak to three games (3g-1a) with his 93rd career tally.
Langenbrunner's two assists gave him points in three straight games (1g-3a).
Zubrus upped the New Jersey lead to three goals with his seventh, taking Brian Gionta's cross-ice feed at the right circle, and putting a wrist shot through the legs of Alex Goligoski and Sabourin at 10:12. For Zubrus, it was his first goal in four games since his career-high four-goal contest in Tampa on Nov. 23.
Cooke made it 3-1 at 16:02 after a rush by Malkin drew Clemmensen, Salvador and Paul Martin away from the front of net. Elias potted his 11th of the season with Sabourin off for the extra skater, stretching his points streak to four games (3g-2a).
New Jersey has lost once since Nov. 14 (4-1 at Pittsburgh, Nov. 29)... Salvador, who had two assists for his first multipoint game as a Devil, took a shot in the face from Goligoski with 2:13 remaining in regulation. Salvador left the game and did not return. "He'll be fine," Sutter said. "He got some stitches. I haven't been told anything different. I guess we'll know more tomorrow." ... Brian Rolston
and Bobby Holik each saw their first game action in Newark since opening night on Oct. 10... Crosby had six goals and 10 assists in his last seven games entering Wednesday's contest.
|Three star selections