Langenbrunner's third straight two-goal game, including consecutive OT winners, has the Devs rolling.
newjerseydevils.com –Jamie Langenbrunner couldn't remember ever having scored overtime winners on back-to-back nights. But Devils fans won't soon forget what the team captain has done over the last three games.
With the Devils moments away from seeing their season-high winning streak come to an end versus visiting Pittsburgh, Langenbrunner tied the game with 30.1 seconds left in regulation then won it with 1:00 remaining in overtime.
In the extra session, Travis Zajac fed cross-slot from the right boards to Langenbrunner at the left circle, and he blasted it into the open left side behind Marc-Andre Fleury for the clincher.
"It was right on my tape," Langenbrunner said. "I had pretty much the whole net to shoot at."
The Devils honored longtime MSG Plus television announcer Mike "Doc" Emrick on Friday. Emrick was named in November as the recipient of the Foster Hewitt Award for contributions to hockey broadcasting.
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The first-place Devils won their eighth in a row with their second overtime victory in as many nights. Langenbrunner, who now has three straight two-goal games, scored on a rebound in overtime Thursday to beat the Bruins 4-3. He has 14 goals on the season.
Langenbrunner's first of the night knotted the score at 3, as the Devils pulled Scott Clemmensen for six skaters. New Jersey gained possession off the offensive zone draw, allowing for Zach Parise's pass behind the net. Langenbrunner walked around the right post for a backhander that found an opening between Fleury's pads.
"On that particular play, you don't have a lot of time," Langenbrunner said. "I know we had guys crashing the net, I'm more just trying to get it to the net and hope for a rebound. Sometimes they find their way through."
"He's playing with a lot of confidence right now and burying all his chances," Zajac said of his linemate. "He's working hard and playing hard and making smart plays. As a leader and the captain of this team that's what we expect from him and he's doing a great job."
Brendan Shanahan added a power-play goal and an assist for the Devils, who fell behind 2-0 in the first period before Bobby Holik put them on the board with his third of the season. The Devils outshot the Penguins 43-16.
Midway through the third period, Evgeni Malkin's wrister on a Pittsburgh two-on-one squibbed between Clemmensen's pads to make it 3-1 at 8:35. Malkin and Sidney Crosby each finished with a goal and an assist. Maxime Talbot also scored for the Pens.
Petr Sykora's neutral zone hook on Zajac at 11:55 gave the Devils hope. Sykora would receive an additional two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct, and the Devils' power play went to work with a four-minute man advantage.
It took them four seconds to make Pittsburgh pay.
Dainius Zubrus beat Talbot on the offensive draw, and Brian Gionta swept the puck back to Shanahan for a blast from the top of the left circle at 11:59. Shanahan's third goal in six games gave the Devils new life.
"It's been huge just having him in the dressing room as a leader and on the ice he's always dangerous when he gets his chances and he doesn't miss too often," Zajac said of Shanahan, whose 653 career tallies are 11th all-time.
Clemmensen continued to rise among the league's wins leaders, making 13 saves for his seventh straight victory. His 22nd triumph moved him ahead of Boston's Tim Thomas and into sole possession of sixth place on the league's wins list.
He had to come up big with under a second remaining in the third, when Malkin fed Pascal Dupuis for a shot from the left hash marks.
"I wasn't sure how much time was left," Clemmensen said. "When I saw Malkin go wide and then put the puck on his backhand, I knew he was going to pass it. The way he passed it – chipping it in the air – gave me a little bit of extra time to get across. [Dupuis] was so close to me that it ended up being a situation where you just kind of go out and block the net as opposed to reacting to it. I just came out, blocked the net, and it hit me."
New Jersey opened up a three-point lead over idle Washington for second place in the Eastern Conference and moved within nine points of conference-leading Boston. The Devils have a five-point edge in the Atlantic and host the Capitals on Tuesday.
Head coach Brent Sutter's team didn't show any signs of fatigue given that they were playing the second of back-to-back games and their third contest in four nights. They won for just the fourth time this season when trailing after two periods (4-12-0).
"They certainly stayed with it tonight," Sutter said. "We were down, but there was still a lot of confidence on the bench. There was a lot of drive and focus in the guys. You could tell they thought they could still win the game."
One night after taking a 2-0 lead on the Bruins, the Devils were faced with a two-goal first-period deficit.
Talbot and Crosby scored 20 seconds apart midway through the frame.
Talbot notched his sixth with a backhand redirection of Ryan Whitney's point shot at 9:33. The league's leading scorers teamed up on the next shift when Crosby took Malkin's feed and raced down the right side for a top-shelf backhander over Clemmensen at 9:53.
The Devils wasted little time getting back into it. Less than two minutes later, Shanahan flipped in front from behind the net, and Holik controlled for a backhander through Fleury's pads from just off the right post at 11:21.
NJD NOTES • Just a few games into the season's second half, and Langenbrunner said a more relaxed approach has him lighting the lamp: "First half of the year I was gripping the stick really tight," he said. "I wasn't getting the opportunities. When you're gripping it tight, you seem to miss. For whatever reason, I just feel a little more relaxed out there, and the pucks are finding their way into the net."
• Langenbrunner believes the Devils' depth is one of the reasons the team is 7-1 this season in overtime: "The advantage we have is that we roll four groups and when you have that many guys going, you're fresh the whole way," he said. "Our D are such good skaters and good at up moving the puck and getting up in the play that it's a huge advantage."
• Zajac, who netted his first career shorthanded tally on Jan. 17, nearly had another Friday. He took a Langenbrunner pass in the neutral zone, but caught iron with a blast from the high slot with 1:59 left in the second period.
• The Devils will play nine of their next 13 games on home ice.
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