Clemmensen denied Willie Mitchell with 3:31 left in regulation.
newjerseydevils.com – The Devils came out firing early in Vancouver, and the result was Tuesday's 5-3 decision over the Canucks at GM Place.
New Jersey (25-15-3) built a 3-0 lead by 11:07 of the first period, then held off a late Vancouver rally to improve to 2-1 on their six-game road trip.
Brian Rolston scored a minute into the contest before Zach Parise's team-leading 25th of the season chased Canucks' starter Jason LaBarbera at 3:29. Brian Gionta beat backup Curtis Sanford to give the Devils a three-goal advantage by the end of the first period.
Vancouver answered with two goals in the third to make it 4-3, but Zubrus' empty-netter sealed it with 38.4 seconds remaining in regulation.
Scott Clemmensen made 26 saves for his 16th win, and ended a three-game skid with his first victory since Jan. 4 against Ottawa.
The Devils snapped a three-game road losing streak against the Canucks with their first victory in Vancouver since 1998-99. Tuesday's game avenged the 5-0 loss suffered by the Devils in their last visit on Dec. 18, 2007.
New Jersey kept pace in the Atlantic Division with the first-place Rangers, who beat the Islanders Tuesday. New York is two points ahead of second-place Philadelphia and three points ahead of the Devils.
The Devils' trip continues with back-to-back games Friday at Columbus and Saturday on Long Island, and concludes next Monday at Nashville.
Jersey's Team stormed the Canucks in the opening period, scoring twice in the first 3:29 against LaBarbera, whose night was over after only four saves. Sanford entered the game in relief, and finished with 19 stops.
New Jersey outshot the home team 12-4 through the opening 20 minutes.
It was quickly 1-0 on Rolston's eighth of the season. David Clarkson controlled behind the cage and threw the puck out front where Rolston scored his second goal in three games from the bottom of the left circle at 1:05.
Rolston stretched his points streak to three games and now has points in five of his last six games (3g-2a).
Parise extended his goal streak to three games to put New Jersey up by two.
LaBarbera came out of his crease to challenge a shot from Zajac, but left the rebound in front of net where Parise tapped it home at 3:29. Langenbrunner started the play with a pass from deep in his own zone, and the line of Parise-Zajac-Langenbrunner has struck for a combined six goals and eight assists in the first half of the road trip.
Zubrus' hard-working forecheck helped set up the Devils' third goal. Zubrus poked the puck off Sanford's stick behind the net, then slid to Gionta who folded his 11th around the left post and into the vacant goal.
Gionta picked up points in his third straight game (1g-2a), while Zubrus improved to nine points in his last 10 contests (3g-6a).
Alex Burrows put the Canucks on the board with his 10th at 11:01 of the second. Ryan Kesler blasted a shot on Clemmensen from the top of the right circle, and Burrows finished it from the bottom of the left circle to make it 3-1.
A bad Vancouver change led to a New Jersey 3-on-1 rush. Willie Mitchell went off and Shane O'Brien jumped on, but couldn't stop Zajac from burying Langenbrunner's pass for his 12th and a 4-1 lead at 4:19 of the third.
The Canucks began chipping away at the Devils' lead with 7:41 left in regulation, when Pavol Demitra scored off the rebound of a Mats Sundin slapper. Sundin was playing in his fourth game since signing with the Canucks on Dec. 18.
Clemmensen elevated his game with 3:31 left, smothering Mitchell's backhander on the doorstep.
But Vancouver's Steve Bernier trimmed the New Jersey lead to one after Kesler stripped Zubrus in the Devils' zone. Bernier turned and fired on goal from the left corner, somehow sneaking his 10th of the season through Clemmensen's pads with 2:41 left.
Zubrus scored his 11th of the season into the empty net.
NJD NOTES With career points 677 and 678, Elias moved within 23 of John MacLean's franchise record. ... The Devils power play failed to score in its only chance of the night. New Jersey penalty killers were perfect for a third straight game and improved to 11-for-11 on the road trip. ... Mike Rupp turned 29 on Tuesday.
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