Devils 4, Islanders 2
Parise celebrates his 34th of the season with Patrik Elias Wednesday at Prudential Center.
When Zach Parise
says he concentrates on getting better each season, it's enough to make you wonder if there's any ceiling for the Devils' leading scorer.
Parise posted a four-point night Wednesday at Prudential Center, picking up a pair of goals to set a new career high with his 33rd and 34th of the season. Jamie Langenbrunner
also scored twice, and the Devils registered a season-high 50 shots on goal en route to a 4-2 win over the New York Islanders.
Parise's second of the game broke a 2-2 tie on the power play with 7:25 left in regulation and gave him two-goal efforts in consecutive games.
"That's always been my mentality that you want to improve your numbers and do better than you did the year before," Parise said. "I always want to make sure that I'm playing better and getting better than the year before."
Parise had a chance for his second career hat trick with the Islanders' net empty late in regulation, but passed to Langenbrunner, who iced it with his 17th. The helper gave Parise a career-best 67 points.
"He was streaking down the slot screaming, so I figured I had to give it to him," Parise joked. "[Langenbrunner and Travis Zajac
] are unselfish guys. They were trying to get me the third one. [Langenbrunner] talked about how he was trying to cycle it in the corner to get it back to me, but those are really, really unselfish guys."
Kevin Weekes made 23 saves for his sixth win of the season and extended his personal winning streak to four games. Weekes won on home ice for the first time since Nov. 21, while his counterpart, Joey MacDonald, stopped 46 of 49 shots.
The Devils (35-17-3) took back-to-back games on home ice to improve to 2-1 on their homestand which continues Friday against Boston and wraps up Sunday against San Jose.
"It was a hard-fought game," head coach Brent Sutter said. "We needed to stay with our game. As the game went on, in the second and third periods, we seemed to get our feet going. We started making plays and getting some more quality scoring chances."
Jersey's Team has won 12 of its last 15 to take an eight-point lead over the second-place Flyers and Rangers in the Atlantic Division and pull into a tie with Washington for second in the Eastern Conference.
The Devils are undefeated in their last four meetings with the last-place Islanders, having outscored them 14-6. They recorded 50 shots on goal for the first time since March 23, 2003 at Florida.
New York scored first in each of the first two periods, and both times, New Jersey answered. The contest was tied 1-1 after one, 2-2 after two. But the strategy for the Devils, who outshot the Isles 31-15 through two periods, remained the same for the pivotal third.
"We didn't change anything," Parise said. "We kept throwing pucks at the net and you kind of had that sense that we were going to get that break and get that extra goal, and we did. We played smart all over the ice."
New York struck first when Blake Comeau passed cross-slot to the right circle for a breaking Radek Martinek, who snapped his second of the season over Weekes at 2:32.
New Jersey responded with excellent pressure on a two-man advantage for 1:39, but ultimately came up empty-handed. Parise scored with 1:21 left in the period to tie the game at 1.
Johnny Oduya fed Martin for a one-timer at the right point through Brian Rolston
's screen, and Parise buried the rebound into the open left side of the cage at 18:39.
"Typically you're not going to get too many past the goalie [from the point] unless you have a tip or screen or deflection," said Martin, who matched a career high with three assists. "Travis has done a good job down there getting in front of the goalie and Zach's finding the back of the net when he gets those opportunities."
The Islanders recovered the lead on a nice individual effort by Kyle Okposo, before the Devils knotted the contest a second time.
With Bobby Holik off for goaltender interference, Okposo intercepted Oduya's clearing attempt just inside the blueline. He cut down the left side and around Bryce Salvador
before putting in his own rebound at 6:15.
Langenbrunner's 16th of the season tied the contest on the power play with 3:39 remaining in the second.
The captain settled Martin's pass from the right point before blasting his second power-play goal of the year into the top right corner behind MacDonald at 16:21.
The Devils took their first lead of the contest in the third, when Parise put home Martin's rebound on the power play at 12:35.
"We talked about putting pucks to the net and getting rebounds tonight, and that's how we got our goals," Parise said. "When you get 50 shots on net, you've got a pretty good chance to win.
Weekes made his first appearance on home ice since relieving Scott Clemmensen on Jan. 8: "It's fun to be able to play at home," he said. "For me, I enjoy playing on the road too, I look at it as a challenge. Either way, whenever the coach tells me I'm playing, I just try to go out there and play my best to give the guys a chance to win the game."
• Patrik Elias
became the sixth player to reach 800 games played in New Jersey. Ken Daneyko holds the club record with 1,283, followed by Martin Brodeur
(978), Scott Stevens (956), John MacLean (934), and Scott Niedermayer (892). With an assist Wednesday, Elias moved within 11 points of John MacLean's club record.
• Brendan Shanahan appeared in his 1,500th career game, becoming just the 12th player in NHL history to do so.
• Jay Pandolfo returned to the lineup after missing nine games as a healthy scratch. Mike Rupp was out of the lineup for the first time since being scratched in back-to-back games on Dec. 4, 6.
• Only one Islander entered Wednesday's game with more than one point versus the Devils this season (Doug Weight: 1g, 1a). The teams conclude the season series with two games at the Nassau Coliseum (Feb. 21, March 7).
|Three star selections