Patrik Elias scores the winning goal with 57.9 seconds left in overtime.
newjerseydevils.com (March 7) – The scoring ended the way it began, with Patrik Elias and Zach Parise skating in on a 2-on-1.
Elias set up Parise the first time, but would bury the winner himself with 57.9 seconds left in overtime to lift the Devils to a 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning at Prudential Center on Friday night.
Sheldon Brookbank knocked the puck away from an oncoming Dan Boyle in Devils territory before Elias stripped Jeff Halpern and turned the play up ice.
Parise outraced Boyle and joined Elias in the odd-man rush against Paul Ranger, but Elias kept the puck to put his 18th of the season between Karri Ramo's body and catching arm at 4:02.
Elias' team-leading eighth game winner moved New Jersey to the top of both the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division as the club took a one-point lead over Montreal and Pittsburgh.
The torrid pace continued for Elias who moved ahead of Parise for the team assist lead (31) and now has two goals and 12 helpers in his last 13 games. The Devils' forward is the all-time team leader in overtime goals with 14.
"The goal that he scored, he made a good play to get it inside the blue line, carried it up the ice and froze everybody," Devils coach Brent Sutter said. "Then, he took that extra step to get a better angle to shoot at. That's what intelligent players do."
Zach Parise shares a laugh with Brian Gionta following his third-period bout with Dan Boyle.
Parise, who also got into his first NHL fight, notched New Jersey's other goal for his third marker in three games.
Martin Brodeur made 21 saves, including two in overtime, to seal victory No. 37.
Brodeur entered the evening tied for third in goals against average (2.15) and save percentage (.921), and has limited opponents to two goals or less in 13 of his last 15 appearances (9-3-3).
The Devils (39-23-6) now embark on a four-game road trip beginning in Toronto, where they will look to sweep the season series with the Maple Leafs Saturday night at Air Canada Centre.
New Jersey, which has taken six of its last eight in Newark (6-1-1), has also been solid of late on the road with points in eight of its last nine away from home (6-1-2).
Parise's 28th of the season opened the scoring just past the midway point of the first period.
The third-year forward ended a four-game point drought with two goals against the Leafs on Tuesday and needs three goals and an assist to match his career highs in both categories.
Brian Gionta chipped a pass ahead in the neutral zone to spring Elias and Parise on a 2-on-1 against Alexandre Picard. Elias flipped for Parise on the left side, and the Devils' leading goal scorer put the tap-in past Ramo's blocker at 12:16.
For Gionta, the secondary helper extended his points streak to three games and gave him seven assists in his last 17 games (6g-7a-13pts).
New Jersey had two power-play chances in the second period, but couldn't take the 2-0 lead. With Ranger serving a minor for slashing, Ramo got across to his left to stop Brookbank's doorstep redirect at 10:49 of the second, then made a chest save on a Gionta deflection 12 seconds later.
Tampa knotted the contest at 1-1 on Maxime Ouellet's power-play goal late in the middle frame.
Boyle passed from the right point to the left faceoff dot, where Ouellet put a wrister through Halpern's screen at 17:30.
In the third period, shortly after the Devils had killed off Travis Zajac's slashing minor, Parise tangled with Boyle. The two went down in heap in the Tampa zone before Boyle chased Parise to the front of the Lightning net.
Parise was charged with a fighting major at 3:47, while the Tampa defender was handed 19 penalty minutes, including the instigator. New Jersey, however, would squander a chance to take the lead on the ensuing four-minute man advantage.
Ramo, who finished with 31 saves, put a pad stop on Gionta's turnaround shot at the 7:04 mark, then fought off Elias' left-circle slapper at 7:34.
Gionta nearly ended the game with 24 seconds left in regulation with an off-wing shot from the left circle that caromed off of Ramo and trickled inches wide of the right post.
Karel Rachunek came up big in the overtime, going 1-on-1 with Vincent Lecavalier and breaking up his pass attempt to a streaking Ranger with 2:10 remaining.
Lecavalier, who had four goals and an assist in his three previous meetings with the Devils, finished the night pointless.
NJD NOTES The Devils concluded the season series against Tampa with a 3-1 mark, and a 13-5-2 record against the Southeast Division... Friday's scratches were Andy Greene, Rod Pelley and Vitaly Vishnevski... Paul Martin sat out a third straight game with body soreness and remains listed as day-to-day.
1 - 0 NJD
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 NJD