Elias nets 300th career goal in Devils' 4-1 win
|Elias scored twice, including his 300th career goal.
This was the bounce-back game the Devils were looking for.
Coming off Friday's loss to Florida, the Devils rebounded Saturday with a solid 4-1 victory over the visiting Philadelphia Flyers.
scored twice, including his 300th career goal, and rookie Niclas Bergfors netted a pair of power-play tallies. The Devils jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period and never looked back, capturing their eighth win in the last 10 games.
"I knew the players would play hard, would play as good as they can play," head coach Jacques Lemaire said.
made 22 saves for his League-leading 20th victory and assisted on the game's first goal. His bid for a record-setting 104th shutout was broken up by Claude Giroux's power-play goal with 4:57 left in the second period.
Brodeur's pokecheck on Jeff Carter's shorthanded breakaway with 3:08 remaining in the second period helped turn the game. It protected the Devils' 3-1 lead before Elias' second of the night put them ahead, 4-1, with 33.1 seconds left in the middle frame.
New Jersey improved to 22-9-1 by beating the rival Flyers for the first time in three meetings this season. Philadelphia has dropped three straight on the road.
"It's a guy whose shot I respect a lot so I always take an extra step on him," Brodeur said of Carter. "When he came close to me, I figured I was just going to let him go on his backhand and then pokecheck him. It worked out well. I haven't done it a while; it surprised him, I guess."
While Brodeur's shutout quest continues, Elias became the second Devil in history to reach the 300-goal plateau, joining John MacLean (347). He passed MacLean last March as the club's all-time leading scorer, and already holds the franchise's career records for assists (420), game-winning goals (67), and hat tricks (7).
"It's pretty big," said Elias' linemate Brian Rolston
, who had two assists. "Obviously to stay healthy and to be around and produce like that on a consistent basis is a big thing. I got my 300th last year, and it's a special thing that you'll look back on. It's a nice milestone."
Elias, 33, is well within reach of MacLean's goal mark and would likely be even closer had he not missed the first 13 games of the season to recover from offseason groin surgery. He has had to work during the season to get himself back to peak conditioning.
"I feel the same as I did three games ago when I couldn't score," Elias said. "It doesn't change anything. It's just, sometimes you have a good game, sometimes you don't. I still have issues; I still feel it. It's still not perfect and I'll just work through it. There's nothing else I can do about it."
Elias has six goals and nine assists this season, but said he still has a ways to go before catching MacLean's mark.
"It'd be nice to accomplish, no question about it," he said. "I think that you always want to push yourself. You have different goals and that would be a nice one to get. Hopefully, I'll still be around."
The Devils improved to 7-0 in the second game of back-to-backs. Lemaire said his team was ready to play from the first puck drop.
"Our first period was probably the best by far," he said. "I think puck control, power play – everything – we were good. We skated well. Over all, every player played well."
Bergfors notched his 10th and 11th of the season to stake the Devils to a 2-0 lead in the first period. The Swedish rookie leads the team with seven power-play goals.
On his first of the night, Bergfors carried the puck through center ice and beat Braydon Coburn one-on-one before burying the puck between Brian Boucher's pads at 2:33. Boucher finished with 24 stops.
"I came with speed and I don't know what their D was really doing," Bergfors said. "The puck was little far ahead. I was looking for the five hole. I felt that was the only option."
Bergfors backhanded Travis Zajac
's rebound past Boucher's catching glove, inside the right post, at 12:31 for his second of the game. Zajac had two assists on the night.
"He's playing well," Lemaire said of Bergfors. "I'm just hoping he'll even get more so he could go on with the top players and play as well as the top players. It might take a little more time, but he's got the tools to do it. He's got the talent."
Elias upped the lead to 3-0 at 15:47 with his fifth of the season and 300th of his career. Vladimir Zharkov
won a board battle with Arron Asham to set up an Elias one-timer past Boucher from the top of the left circle.
"Just a great play by Zharky there not to give up on that play," Elias said. "He's playing great; he's playing really good hockey out there. He's battling and that was a perfect example. He never gave up on the play, battled for it, won the battle. He keeps his head up all the time and sees the guys that are open. "
The teams traded goals in the second, beginning with Giroux's power-play wrister from the right circle that put the Flyers on the board at 15:03.
"Just a bad-angle shot," Brodeur said. "Just wish I could get it back. Kind of hit me in the little hole I've got there. I stand up on these shots and sometimes it just sneaks through, and that one did. It hit the inside of my blocker."
Brodeur said he isn't thinking every night about passing Terry Sawchuk's shutout record.
"I can't. If I start doing that I'm going to get myself crazy here," he said. "I think it's going to happen when it's going to happen. It's fresh now, it's been three games since I tied him. Maybe after 15, 20 games we'll talk about it."
The Devils responded in the final minute of the second period with Elias' second of the game to cap the scoring. On a 2-on-1 rush against Chris Pronger, Rolston passed cross-slot to Elias, who buried his 301st career goal by the paddle of Boucher's outstretched stick.
"I was happy for him," Rolston said. "I'm sure there's a lot more ahead. He was flying tonight and he makes the game easy for me. When he's going like that, it makes it real easy for me."
|Brodeur and Mottau defend with Scott Hartnell on the doorstep.
Brodeur's next appearance will tie him with Patrick Roy for most all-time among goaltenders (1,029). … Bergfors' other two-goal game was Nov. 4 vs. Washington. … Elias extended his points streak to four games (3g-2a-5pts). … Devils were 2-for-6 on the power play.
• Lemaire believed Brodeur's pokecheck on Carter was a pivotal play.
"If they would've scored there, it's a team that can come back," he said. "You could see that they started to get a little momentum. If they would've scored there, it would have been a lot tougher for us. That was a big save."
Aside from the goal scorers, Lemaire said his best skater was center Rob Niedermayer.
"He was good," said the coach. "He was skating well, played against (Mike) Richards, who's not an easy player to play against. He played the power play, played well on the power play. Not that he got points, goals, but just what he's doing. Very solid in our end."
• Mark Fraser
was challenged to a fight by Flyers' tough guy Ian Laperriere, but wouldn't take the bait with the Devils in charge.
"He was just trying to play his role, and his style of game, but speaking from first person, you want to be the one to choose when the right time is and when it's not," Fraser said. "With a three-goal lead, the last thing I want to do is give them any momentum. I figured it was better to just keep them on the ice and just keep us rolling."
|Three star selections