Mike Rupp won this battle with Andrew Hutchinson Wednesday night.
newjerseydevils.com – The Devils stumbled in their 2008 finale, closing out their three-game road trip with a 4-2 loss Wednesday to the Dallas Stars.
Stars' forward Mark Parrish broke a 2-2 tie on the power play midway through the second period, and Dallas erased New Jersey's first-period lead with three unanswered goals to split their season series.
After Loui Eriksson's shorthanded goal had given Dallas a 1-0 lead, the Devils powered ahead on goals from Mike Mottau and David Clarkson in the final 2:30 of the first period.
But Landon Wilson tied the contest in the first six minutes of the second, and Parrish put the Stars ahead for good.
Patrik Elias skated in alone on Marty Turco and nearly tied the game with 3:06 left in the third, but couldn't find an opening between Turco's pads.
Eriksson added an empty-netter with 40.3 seconds left in regulation.
Scott Clemmensen stopped 40 of 43 Dallas shots, but fell to 13-6-1 on the season with his third loss in his last five starts. Clemmensen was under siege for much of the night and faced 34 shots in the final two periods. He allowed just two goals in the middle frame, when the Devils were outshot 19-2.
The Devils wrapped up December with a mark of 9-4-1 and return home to open 2009 against Montreal on Friday and Ottawa on Sunday before playing nine of 12 on the road.
Head coach Brent Sutter's squad earned a 4-3 win in St. Louis Tuesday, but didn't perform up to the coach's expectations in the second half of the back-to-back on New Year's Eve.
"We monitor our schedule very closely to make sure these guys are as well-rested as they can be every night," Sutter said. "I don't know how you can have a second period like we did and come back and play much harder in the third and say we were tired. I don't buy that. We just weren't very good."
The Devils fell behind in the first period, when they allowed their second shorthanded goal this season.
New Jersey got caught in a line change on their second man advantage, and Eriksson took a Trevor Daley feed to beat Clemmensen top shelf from the right circle at 10:09.
The resilient Devils erased that deficit and took the lead in the final 2:30 of the period.
Mottau got his first goal in 56 games to tie things up at 1-1. Brian Gionta carried his own rebound around the net for a pass back toward the point. Elias tipped Gionta's feed back to Mottau, and the Devils' blueliner took a step toward the middle before beating Turco inside the left post at 17:30.
Elias' assist on Mottau's goal was career point No. 668, moving him within 33 of John MacLean for the Devils' franchise record.
Stephane Robidas' hooking minor with 1:50 left in the first helped set up New Jersey's second of the contest.
Gionta notched his second straight assist with a shot from the top of the left circle that hit Dainius Zubrus in the slot. Clarkson jumped on the puck and wrapped a shot around Turco's left pad for his seventh of the season with 24 seconds left in the period.
Dallas battled back, scoring twice in the second period.
Wilson spun away from Bryce Salvador on the doorstep to push Mike Ribeiro's pass between Clemmensen's pads at 5:39 of the middle frame
The Devils stayed out of the box in the first period, but encountered penalty trouble with four minors in the second. New Jersey didn't record a shot after the 1:03 mark, and allowed the final 18 shots of the period.
Parrish broke the 2-2 stalemate on the power play midway through the period. He got his fifth of the season after Clemmensen ventured to his left to play a rebound swipe by Brad Richards. Parrish slid the puck through the defense of Jay Leach and into the open left side of the net at 9:58.
New Jersey killed off 47 seconds of a carryover 5-on-3 to open the third, but couldn't solve Turco for the tying goal.
Elias slipped by Robidas for a backhand attempt that Turco squeezed between his pads with 3:06 left in regulation before Eriksson's empty-netter in the final minute.
Zubrus' assist on Clarkson's goal was his second point in his last 10 games... Colin White (upper body) missed his second straight game... The teams accounted for 24 first-period shots, with the Devils carrying a 14-10 advantage... New Jersey went 1-for-4 on the power play, Dallas finished 1-for-3.