Devils 7, Panthers 2
Parise registered his second straight three-point game in Saturday's win.
By now, even Zach Parise
's linemates have to resist becoming spectators when he steps on the ice.
The Devils' leading scorer was at his best again Saturday, striking twice in the first period and adding an assist in New Jersey's 7-2 domination of the Florida Panthers at Prudential Center.
Parise has back-to-back three-point games (3g-3a), but he wasn't the only Devil to light the lamp against Florida. Brendan Shanahan, David Clarkson
and Brian Rolston
each had a goal and an assist for New Jersey, which scored the game's first five goals.
The Devils (40-19-3) went on to their sixth straight triumph on home ice.
Parise's 37th and 38th goals of the season moved him ahead of Philadelphia's Jeff Carter on the NHL's goals list, behind only Washington's Alex Ovechkin. Parise's 76 points are three behind Sidney Crosby for third-best in the League.
|Brodeur has won two straight since coming back from injury.
"He's competitive and he wants to go out and score every shift," said Travis Zajac
, who scored a power-play goal off a Parise set-up. "That's what makes him so good: he's always hungry around the net. He always wants to play his best. It's amazing to watch and fun to be a part of it.
"I know on that second goal I was just watching him and watching it happen."
Parise's second of the afternoon was his second highlight-reel goal in as many games. ( 2/26 vs. Colorado
Parise stripped Nathan Horton on a backcheck in the neutral zone, then flipped the puck to himself to evade Florida defenseman Keith Ballard. He raced in and scored over the shoulder of Panthers' goaltender Craig Anderson.
"I was trying to flip it by him," Parise said. "I saw [Ballard ] coming at an angle, and tried to flip it by him and get a jump past him and it worked out. I just wanted to get a quick shot on net, and I think I surprised Anderson a little bit."
After that, Parise said it was hard not to think about what would have been his first hat trick of the season.
"You don't want to change anything," he said. "You just want to keep shooting, and if it happens, it happens. I know my linemates were trying to force [the puck] to me, and that's the type of guys they are."
started his second straight game since returning from injury, and needed 15 saves to seal his third straight win overall. After shutting out Colorado on Thursday, Brodeur gave up his first goal in five periods when Ville Peltonen scored with 1:30 left in the second.
In the first period, Brodeur had to contend with some contact in the goal crease from Richard Zednik and Radek Dvorak, who was called for charging. The Devils' netminder said it's just that time of the year. Florida, which lost for the third time in five games, currently sits on the playoff bubble.
"Guys are desperate now," Brodeur said. "I expected that. I know the level of play is a lot different than when I left. Even though we dominated, you could see how much more jump Florida had than Colorado, and I'd expect even a bigger jump if I play [Sunday] against the Flyers."
Brodeur improved to 8-2-2 on the season and notched his 546th career victory to move within five of Patrick Roy's all-time record (551).
and Brian Gionta each had two assists, and Dainius Zubrus
got his 13th late in regulation to give the Devils six or more goals for the second time in their last three home games.
For Elias, career points No. 694 and 695 leave him six shy of John MacLean's all-time club record (701).
The Devils could not have asked for a better start to the three-game homestand, which concludes Sunday versus Philadelphia at 1 p.m. New Jersey outshot Florida 46-17 and has outscored opponents 11-2 in the last two games.
"We've done some good things here in the last few games," head coach Brent Sutter said. "I don't want to get too far ahead either. It was one of those games where you roll things over and let the guys play. We created a lot of offense here today. We were very good in our own zone as part of that. A good effort by everybody."
Parise put the Devils on the board with his first goal in four meetings with the Panthers this season.
He collected Jamie Langenbrunner
's pass at the Florida blueline, and skated in for a wrister from the left hash mark. Anderson made the stop, but couldn't find the rebound and looked behind him for the puck. Parise reached in to poke it through Anderson's pads at 1:18.
Langenbrunner's breakaway nearly made it a two-goal lead at 7:10. Peltonen's shot from the right circle missed the net and carried around the boards to Langenbrunner for a break from center ice. The captain skated in alone, but couldn't get his forehand over Anderson's left pad.
Shanahan's fourth of the season early in the second period was one of four that the Devils scored off rebounds. Clarkson got behind Florida's defenders for a breakaway, and Shanahan followed up to put in Clarkson's rebound at 3:51 and snap a nine-game drought.
New Jersey carried a 21-9 shots advantage at the time, and had outshot Florida 33-13 after 40 minutes.
Zajac's 18th made it 4-0 and started a tidal wave of scoring in the final 4:04 of the second. With Stephen Weiss in the box for goaltender interference, Elias fed Parise at the right side of the net for a no-look backhand pass to Zajac in front for the tap-in at 15:56.
"We talked about it before the faceoff," Zajac said. "He said he was going to throw a pass across the crease. It was a good play and it worked out perfectly."
Twenty-four seconds later, Rolston lifted the Devils to a 5-0 lead with his 12th. He put home Gionta's rebound after Gionta outraced Ballard for a breakaway.
Peltonen got his 10th from the right circle through traffic, wristing the puck inside the left post behind Brodeur at 18:30.
But the Devils answered on Clarkson's 14th with 25 seconds remaining.
Johnny Oduya's shot from the point deflected off traffic in front, and Clarkson shoveled the puck into the open right side at 19:35.
Clarkson's second-period fight with Nick Tarnasky came 32 seconds after Bryce Salvador
battled Anthony Stewart. Later, Clarkson could be seen exchanging words with Ballard near the benches. The Devils' forward feels he's at his best in physical games.
"That's how I try and play every game," Clarkson said. "Get under the other team's skin, hit guys, let them know that when they go for the puck I'm going to finish them. I don't think it scares guys, but at the same time, when they do get the puck they realize I might come and hit them. I play better, too, when guys are coming after me, that's just the way I've played since I was a kid, and I'll continue to play that way."
Bryan McCabe's one-timer from the point with 5:14 remaining in regulation was Florida's second goal.
The Devils have now reached 40 wins in 12 straight seasons, tying the Boston Bruins (1968-69 to 1979-80) for the second-longest streak in League history. The Montreal Canadiens hold the all-time record with 13 straight 40-win seasons from 1970-71 to 1982-83... Mike Rupp and Jay Leach were scratched Saturday.
|Three star selections