Pandolfo's first goal since returning to the lineup gave the Prudential Center faithful a reason to get up and cheer.
newjerseydevils.com (Feb. 8) – The buzz surrounding the Devils' meeting with the Ducks on Friday night focused almost entirely on Scott Niedermayer's return to New Jersey.
Niedermayer spent the first 13 seasons of his career with the Devils, winning three Stanley Cups, and had not played in the Garden State since signing with the Ducks in 2005.
By the final horn, however, the storyline had little to do with the former Devils defenseman and everything to do with a rookie named Ryan Carter and an ineffective New Jersey power play.
Carter scored his first two NHL goals, and Anaheim got 34 saves from Jonas Hiller for a 2-1 win over the Devils at Prudential Center.
Jay Pandolfo notched his first goal since returning from injury two games ago, but New Jersey saw its two-game home winning streak come to a close.
An 0-for-5 night with the man advantage – including three missed chances in the final period – didn't help the cause for the Devils, who lost to the Ducks on home ice for the first time since Feb. 11, 1996.
Niedermayer recorded an assist in the game, but gave the Devils a chance to even things up when he took a hooking penalty late in regulation. Anaheim killed off Niedermayer's minor, then held on against 43 seconds of a New Jersey power play to close out regulation.
The Devils (30-21-4) failed to move into sole possession of first place in the Atlantic, but still trail Philadelphia and Pittsburgh by one point for the division's top spot.
New Jersey plays the second game of the homestand tomorrow night against Carolina, before hosting Ottawa on Wednesday and Atlanta next Friday.
"We can't keep letting points slip by us because we haven't played well for 60 minutes." head coach Brent Sutter said. "This time of year, when you don't play 60 minutes, your chances of winning diminish greatly, because most teams that you're playing are positioning in the top eight or fighting to get into the top eight.
"Basically, every game is a playoff-type game. In the playoffs, in you play 40 minutes, 99.9% of the time you lose that game."
After Carter tallied twice in the first period, the Devils found themselves in a 2-0 hole for the third straight game.
Niedermayer began Anaheim's first scoring play of the night from behind the Ducks' net. The former Devil found an open Francois Beauchemin at the Ducks' blue line, and Beauchemin hit Carter on the right wing.
Carter's first career goal was a wrist shot from outside the top of the right circle that beat Martin Brodeur to the far side, inside the left post at 10:12.
Brodeur (28-19-3) got his 14th straight start and collected 25 saves. The Devils' netminder dropped back-to-back meetings with the Ducks to fall to 11-6-1 against them all-time. Brodeur suffered a 4-2 defeat in Anaheim on Nov. 24, 2006.
Carter struck again with 2:07 remaining in the opening frame.
A Pandolfo clearing attempt got caught in a linesman's skates along the boards, allowing Corey Perry to shovel a pass back into the Devils' zone. Carter poked the puck around Johnny Oduya, then cut by Paul Martin toward the middle of the ice before snapping a shot through Brodeur's pads at 17:53. Pandolfo's ninth of the season from Vitaly Vishnevski and David Clarkson trimmed the Devils' deficit to one in the second period.
Clarkson took a check from George Parros along the left boards to get the puck back to Vishnevski at the point. The one-time Duck ripped a shot from the top of the left circle that Pandolfo got a piece of at 15:36 for his first goal since returning to the Devils' lineup two games ago.
Pandolfo, who missed 28 games with a groin injury he suffered on Nov. 28, had last scored on Nov. 23 against Atlanta.
Carter put the puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty at 19:17, giving New Jersey one last crack at the tying goal, but the club was unable to capitalize.
New Jersey's power play is two for its last 15 since scoring seven times in two games against Philadelphia (Jan. 22) and Montreal (Jan. 24)... Colin White played in his 500th NHL game... Anaheim snapped a six-game losing streak in New Jersey... After getting outshot 9-8 in the first period, the Devils posted shot advantages of 12-6 and 15-9 in the final two frames... Anaheim's Hiller recorded a win in his first career start against the Devils... Friday's scratches were Sheldon Brookbank, Mike Mottau and Rod Pelley... Andy Greene was back in the lineup after being scratched from four straight games.
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