Devils 3, Ducks 1 FINAL
|Clarkson had the game-winner with a highlight-reel move on Wednesday.
The injury-riddled Devils are quietly plowing through November as the hottest team in the National Hockey League.
Missing five of their regulars Wednesday night, they received a highlight-reel goal from David Clarkson
and a shorthanded tally from Zach Parise
to upend the visiting Anaheim Ducks, 3-1.
scored 38 seconds into the game, and Martin Brodeur
made 31 saves to lead New Jersey to its sixth straight victory, and third in a row on home ice.
On the night the Devils honored their win over Anaheim in the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals
, they stayed on a roll with timely goals and a perfect 6-for-6 penalty kill.
Head coach Jacques Lemaire couldn't put his finger on any one thing that has Jersey's Team riding the NHL's longest active winning streak.
"It's hard to say," Lemaire said. "You need a lot of things, and I think right now we're getting some breaks which is a big part of it. I think the guys believe that they can be successful – that is another big part. They believe they can do it; they believe they can come back. I think it's all this, and we're playing as a team more and more."
Lemaire felt teamwork was the difference Wednesday.
"Tonight, we worked well," he said. "We worked well enough to win the game. I think the guys, again, when (Anaheim) scored the goal, we picked it up – again. It was good, and I thought it was our best start since the beginning of the season here."
was scratched Wednesday after being unable to practice with the team this week. New Jersey was already without forwards Rob Niedermayer (upper body) and Jay Pandolfo (shoulder), and defensemen Paul Martin (arm) and Johnny Oduya (lower body).
That they have cleared one injury hurdle after another in this young season speaks volumes for the Devils' make-up.
"I guess we're getting used to it, for one thing," Langenbrunner said. "You've got to come to expect it – we're not the only team in the League that has to deal with it. Obviously, the extent of the number of guys that we have out is probably more than most, but guys have stepped up and played well.
"You look at the way Timmy's (Sestito) played since he's been up the last two games, he's really stepped in and played very well. You can't say enough about the way Andy Greene
has stepped up his game, from out of the lineup the first few games to carrying us on the backend as far as minutes. It's been good to see and hopefully that'll continue."
The Devils (12-4-0) head into Pittsburgh to face the defending Stanley Cup champs on Thursday. There's no looking ahead, however, even for a New Jersey squad that has gone 12-2 since dropping its first two games of the season.
"We haven't been talking about any opponent ahead in a long time," said Langenbrunner. "I think that's important. We're not talking about the standings, we're not talking about the streak. We just keep moving and playing the next game. It's been a good atmosphere that way. We're not worried about anything but what we can control at that moment, and I think that's the way you have to play."
The captain gave the Devils their earliest lead of the season, netting his third of the year just 38 seconds into the contest with a redirection of Greene's floater from the blue line. Greene finished with two assists.
It snapped a streak of three games in which New Jersey had allowed the first goal, and broke Langenbrunner out of an eight-game goal drought.
"The way we play, it's definitely helpful if we can score first," Langenbrunner said. "I think it allows us to settle in and play more comfortably in our style, but I don't think we've necessarily worried about it when it hasn't happened. We wanted to get a better start, and we got that tonight. Still not quite the start we want, but we're getting closer."
After Corey Perry scored for the Ducks in the second period, Clarkson broke the 1-1 tie with a dazzling toe drag move around James Wisniewski. He buried his fifth of the season past Jonas Hiller, who had 22 saves for Anaheim.
"It felt good to be able to try something like that and get away with it," Clarkson said. "The type of player I'm known to be – up and down the wing, crash and banger – if you can add a little bit of that stuff in, it's definitely exciting. I haven't seen my celebration yet, but it felt good."
Clarkson would like to forget his six minutes in penalties: back-to-back minors in the first period for hooking and tripping, and a too many men he was whistled for in the third.
The Devils had gone five games without a call for too many men on the ice, but were caught twice on Wednesday for their sixth and seventh infractions in 16 games.
"I'll take 100 percent of the blame," Clarkson said. "If they would've scored, I'd have felt pretty bad. But the boys played good on the penalty kill, and it worked out for us."
Parise's team-leading eighth of the season sealed the scoring on a shorthanded breakaway with 18.7 seconds left in the second frame.
knocked the puck away from Scott Niedermayer at the Devils' blueline, and Langenbrunner flipped a pass to lead Parise up the middle for a shorthanded breakaway.
Hiller stopped Parise's first shot, but Parise crashed the net and stuffed a second-effort backhander off the post, Hiller's left skate, and over the line. It was the second shorthanded goal of Parise's career.
"I think (Langenbrunner) saw me jumping up there through the middle," Parise said. "He probably expects that with me on the ice penalty killing – go for the shorthanded one. When you have a chance to jump in a hole like that, you're definitely hoping that pass gets through."
For the first time on their winning streak, the Devils won by more than a goal. New Jersey squandered 58 seconds of a two-man advantage with 6:32 remaining, then had to kill Mike Mottau's slashing minor with 3:44 left in regulation.
"It's definitely nice to get goals and get a lead like that," Brodeur said. "Especially Zach's goal, late in the (second) period on the PK. These are the things you need to do to be successful in the long run: give yourself a little cushion once in a while. They're nice to win, and I think you learn a lot from winning tight games, but sometimes it's nice to have that little cushion. We had that 5-on-3 to put the game away and we didn't, so we had to work a little extra hard there at the end with the big PK."
Lemaire wasn't pleased with Clarkson's penalties, but talked after the game about his pivotal goal.
"I like the guys to be disciplined," Lemaire said. "I like the guys to play for the team, which he does all the time. He's going to get some penalties, it could be accidental. But the one that I really didn't like is the one he jumped on the ice and got the puck when Zach just came in front of him. That's the one I didn't like. But on the other hand, when you look at it, and you're not in the game, after the game you say, 'Well, his goal was a huge goal.'
Lemaire gave the PK two thumbs up.
"Tonight had to be our best penalty kill of the year so far. We were good. We were really good," he said.
• Patrik Elias
said he felt "a little bit better" after playing his second game since returning to the lineup last Friday. He finished Wednesday's game with 18:47 of total ice time on 30 shifts, and spent the night on the left side of a line with Dainius Zubrus
"Just all right," Elias said. "A little bit better during the game, but it's always different right after or the next day in the morning."
The Devils' all-time leading scorer still isn't where he wants to be with his health.
"It's so frustrating, especially in the third period," he said. "Zach gave me a pass and an opportunity, and I just don't have the jump at all. I just don't have the push. It's a frustrating thing when you can't play the way you would like to."
Elias said he was unsure of whether he would play in Pittsburgh, but Lemaire said No. 26 would make the trip.
"He's getting better and better, and that's what I like," said Lemaire. "I know he's not at his best, but you can tell he has good skills, and it's coming. You see it a shift here, a shift there. When he's in top shape, he's going to help this hockey club."
Lemaire said Rolston would travel to Pittsburgh and would "probably" face the Penguins.
• Lemaire on going 12-2 since an 0-2 start, given the injuries:
"We're surprised for sure, but I'm not a stat coach. I don't look at the stats every day; where we are, where we have to be, and all this. What I want, is I want the guys to play the best they can. When they don't, I want to find out why they don't, and next game, I want them better. If they play at their best, the points will be there. Unless your team's not good, and I think this team is good."
• Parise on Clarkson's toe drag:
"It was nice. I think he's been watching Zubie (Dainius Zubrus
) in practice. It was a great move. Any time you can do it in this League, it's a great move, and I think he was able to catch the goalie off-guard a little."
|Three star selections