Devils 3, Capitals 2 F
|Brodeur (8-4-0) produced this save on Alexander Semin early in the third.
The Devils took advantage of Alex Ovechkin's absence to pull out a big win Wednesday at Prudential Center.
Looking to break out of their home funk, the Devils got a pair of power-play goals from Niclas Bergfors and powered past the visiting Washington Capitals, 3-2, at the Rock.
Owners of a perfect 7-0 mark on the road, the Devils expressed relief after picking up a victory in front of the hometown crowd. They won their third in a row overall, and improved to 2-4-0 in Newark.
"It's different," head coach Jacques Lemaire said of the home win. "It's good news. That is news."
Bergfors broke a 1-1 tie in the third period with his third of the season, a blast from the right circle through Capitals' goaltender Semyon Varlamov at 11:20. He notched his first career two-goal game by redirecting a Travis Zajac
shot to make it 3-1 with 4:50 to go in regulation. Washington pulled Varlamov to score a 6-on-5 goal with 1:37 left.
"As soon as you get a goal, it gives you huge confidence," Bergfors said. "That was a great feeling."
set up Bergfors' first tally and was credited with the third Devils' goal before telling referees that he hadn't touched it. It was eventually given to Bergfors, who enjoyed connecting with Parise and Zajac.
"Of course," Bergfors said. "Those are great players. You kind of raise your level much easier. It worked out good today."
's third of the year tied the game at 1-1 in the second period after Tyler Sloan had given Washington the first lead.
"We've won two of our last three at home – that's not too bad," said Martin Brodeur
, who made 26 saves. "You have to see the positives here. We're playing well and didn't get down when we got scored on first. We kept doing what we needed to do, and the power play was big for us in the third."
New Jersey (9-4-0) has prevailed in nine of its last 11. Brodeur said the team brought home a road-style game.
"It's exactly like that," he said. "We didn't play a great first period, but we got away with it. They scored one goal, and we really, I thought, took over the game after that."
Even with no Ovechkin, Brodeur still had to contend with the likes of Alexander Semin. Brodeur got his pads up to stop Semin's scoring chance 3:22 into the third, then watched Semin miss wide right on a breakaway with 1:49 left in regulation.
Semin was in the box for hooking when Bergfors gave New Jersey its first lead of the game. The Devils' power play went 2-for-4 in the third period.
"He was one of the top players tonight," Lemaire said of Bergfors. "He played a real good game. At the start, we weren't playing the best we could. I thought that changing the lines would get them to go a little better, and it took a little time."
Lemaire showcased three straight Devils' first-rounders on one line when Bergfors (23rd overall, 2005) saw time on the right side of a line with Parise (17th, 2003) and Zajac (20th, 2004). The move paid off.
"(Bergfors) has good skills, and I just felt that playing with them, he was going to push a little harder," Lemaire said. "Travis had a good third period, not as good in the first; a little better in the second. I just felt that the three guys together, especially the two older with a younger guy, would motivate them to play better."
The Devils continue to excel despite a slew of major injuries – Paul Martin (forearm), Jay Pandolfo (shoulder), Johnny Oduya (upper body) – but did not have to deal Wednesday with Ovechkin's explosive talents. Ovechkin (upper body) missed just his fifth game in five seasons.
"The excitement level is a lot different from fans whenever he grabs the puck," Brodeur said. "Doesn't matter if he's home or away, the energy level of the building always rises up. It's kind of nice not to have; to play Washington and be able to dodge it that one time. It is what it is; we took advantage of it."
Rolston's goal snapped a seven-game point drought. His centering feed from behind the net went off Mike Green in front and skipped by Varlamov to tie the game at 3:33 of the second. It was the end result of a hard-working shift by a line of Rolston, Rob Niedermayer and Jamie Langenbrunner
"I was actually trying to feed Jamie in front and got a fortunate bounce off the defenseman," Rolston said. "It was big. It was a sluggish game, especially for us in the first period, and for them, too. I don't think they came out with a ton of jump either. It was one of those things to get us going a little bit. We were down 1-0, if they get another one, it's an uphill battle. It was a good one to get at the time."
Sloan's first of the season put the Caps ahead, 1-0, in the first period.
Chris Clark's keep at the Devils' blue line turned into a 2-on-1 with Sloan and Mathieu Perreault against Colin White
. In his NHL debut, Perreault fed a pass to Sloan, who roofed it from in tight to make it 1-0 at 17:10.
Tomas Fleischmann beat Brodeur's catching glove for the Caps' second goal with 1:37 left in regulation.
Niedermayer took a hit in the third period and left the game about five minutes into the final frame.
"Just sort of had an awkward hit, but it feels not too bad," said Niedermayer, who didn't remember who had hit him. He said it was too early to speculate on his status for Friday's home game against the Islanders.
"We'll see what happens," he said.
• Lemaire said a game versus Washington had a different feel without Ovechkin.
"Maybe it changed the game a bit; you know how this guy plays," Lemaire said. "I don't think we played good enough to beat them if this guy would've been in and playing at his best. On the other hand, if he had been in the lineup, I know we would have played better."
• Parise talked after the game about the Devils' improving fortunes on the power play. The Devils' leading scorer has points in seven of his last eight games (5g-6a).
"Even the first power play that we had, we didn't score, but we were moving it around pretty well," he said. "It's a relief for the power play to give you a chance to win for once."
• Lemaire had high praise for the play of Andy Greene
, who had an assist and logged 20:42 of ice time.
"He's been steady," Lemaire said. "He's been good. I would say one of the best, if not the best, defenseman."
• Rod Pelley
fought Clark with 2:08 left in the period. Clark, the Caps' captain, battled David Clarkson
in the teams' first meeting on Oct. 12. The Devils won, 3-2, in a shootout.
• The goal horn briefly sounded 4:17 into the first when it appeared that Niedermayer had scored on Rolston's rebound.
|Three star selections