Nothing got behind Martin Brodeur Friday night, as the Devils' goaltender made 27 saves for his second shutout of the season.
newjerseydevils.com (Nov. 30) – By the third period, the TV cameras had caught Zach Parise on the bench flashing a grin.
With the night he had against the Montreal Canadiens, you could hardly blame him.
Parise recorded his first career natural hat trick – including two power-play goals – for a four-point night as the Devils extended their season-high winning streak to six games with a 4-0 victory over Montreal at Prudential Center on Friday night.
No doubt Martin Brodeur wore a broad smile of his own under his mask as he made 27 saves for his second shutout in four games and the 94th of his career.
Brodeur tied George Hainsworth for second on the NHL's all-time list, and now has the most combined regular season and playoff shutouts of any goaltender in league history with 116.
The Montreal native has blanked his hometown Habs eight times over his career for the second-highest shutout total he has against any one team (NY Islanders, 10), and the highest total he has versus any non-divisional opponent.
Brian Gionta added a goal with the man advantage as New Jersey finished 3-for-4 on the power play. After struggling with the man advantage early in the year, the Devils have notched seven power play goals in 24 opportunities (29.1%) over their current winning streak.
New Jersey (13-10-2) improved to 5-4-0 at Prudential Center, and moved within two points of first place in the Atlantic Division.
Afterward, head coach Brent Sutter had a hard time singling out any one performance to praise.
"We had a lot of good players here tonight, those two of course," Sutter said of Parise and Brodeur. "Our specialty teams were very important coming in. We knew that if we had opportunities, we needed to score on the power play. When their opportunities arose, Marty was rock-solid again. Zach scored three goals, and I had a lot of guys who had very good games."
The penalty kill, a perfect 5-for-5 against Montreal's top-ranked attack, was once again one of the keys to victory for Sutter's squad, which has allowed just one goal in its opponents' last 25 chances.
"Our power play has produced and our PK has been very good," Sutter said. "I know we're down on our percentages in the standings because when you start slow, it's tough to catch up. But when you look at the last six or seven games, our specialty teams have been much higher on the power play and our PK has been really good."
With checking specialist Jay Pandolfo out of the lineup for the first time since January of 2003, the Devils nonetheless weathered three Montreal power plays by the halfway point of the first period – a stretch that saw the Canadiens outshoot them 13-1.
Then, as the seconds ticked off the clock at the end of the first, Parise struck for his first of the night.
When Patrice Brisebois mishandled a pass at the Montreal point, Parise collected the puck and skated in alone on Canadiens netminder Carey Price, beating him on the backhand with 35 seconds left in the period.
Parise, the Devils' points leader with 28, now has seven goals in his last six games, with four power-play markers and two game winners in that span. He added his second of the night off a Gionta rebound to give the Devils a 2-0 lead at the 13:10 mark of the second period.
Parise was positioned to the left of Price, and put home a Gionta rebound to stake New Jersey to a two-goal edge.
The Devils blew the game open in the third period during a four-minute 5-on-3 that followed Guillaume Latendresse and Kyle Chipchura each receiving double-minors for high-sticking.
Parise's third, a wrister from the right circle that beat Price over his left shoulder at 6:22, gave him a team-best 12 for the season and brought down a rain of caps from the stands.
It also left two minutes remaining on the two-man advantage, which the third-year forward used to set up Gionta at 7:49 for his ninth of the season, fourth on the power play.
Parise's hat trick is the club's second of the season (Pandolfo, Oct. 31)... Jamie Langenbrunner had two PPA to extend his scoring streak to five games (9a)... Pandolfo (groin) was scratched from tonight's lineup, snapping his ironman streak at 307 games. He had appeared in every Devils regular-season game dating back to Jan. 22, 2003 at San Jose. The torch is passed to Sergei Brylin, who extended his streak to 271 games Friday night... Andy Greene and Johnny Oduya returned after being healthy scratches against Dallas on Nov. 28. For Oduya, Friday night was career game No. 100... Mike Rupp and Sheldon Brookbank were scratches... The Devils are unbeaten (9-0-0) this season when leading after the second period... New Jersey entered the contest 2-for-31 on the power play at Prudential Center.