The Devils came up short in their first home meeting with the Canucks since 2005-06.
In the end, it didn't come down to the goaltenders.
A game billed as a battle for Team Canada's Olympic starting job between Martin Brodeur and Vancouver's Roberto Luongo featured five goals in the first period and ended with the Devils on the wrong side of a 5-2 defeat by the visiting Canucks.
Entering Wednesday's contest, the spotlight sat squarely on the shoulders of Brodeur and Luongo, both of whom will vie to be Canada's No. 1 when the Vancouver Winter Games open in February.
But it never developed into a goaltenders' duel. The Devils fell behind 3-0 in the first period before rallying with two goals late in the frame. The Canucks added two more in the third to ice it.
Brodeur made 21 stops and was outdone by Luongo, who stopped 27 of 29. New Jersey's home winning streak was halted at six games and their overall winning streak was snapped at three.
For Brodeur, the loss was disappointing, regardless of the pre-game hype.
"Didn't matter who was playing against me," he said. "You don't like to lose in certain ways. You'll take some of the good losses, but a loss like that was just part of the game. It was a six-minute period (in the first) and a five-minute period that we allowed five goals. That's not a way to be successful."
The line of Alex Burrows and the Sedin twins, Daniel and Henrik, combined for two goals and five assists to hand the Devils a defeat that head coach Jacques Lemaire said he didn't see coming.
"It's always easy after," Lemaire said. "Every little doubt that you had, you say, 'OK, it's that,' because you know the result."
Niclas Bergfors notched his seventh goal of the season, and Travis Zajac added his eighth with six seconds left in the first to cut the Devils' deficit to one.
"It was a tough start for us," Brodeur said. "We just waited to see how they were playing, and they showed us quickly. We bounced back, we had a good second period. We just couldn't get that tying goal to make it a real game. We didn't get down when it was 3-0. We kept plugging away and we almost got back."
Jersey's Team was thinking rally heading into the second.
"We battled back there at the end of the first," Zajac said. "We were in the game. We were happy about that, that we gave ourselves a shot to be in this game. We didn't do enough after that to get the win."
Zach Parise nearly tied it late in the second. Andy Greene set up the Devils' leading scorer on the doorstep with 2:36 remaining in the period, but Luongo denied Parise's three jabs at a loose puck.
Parise saw his career-high points streak snapped at 10 games (9g-6a).
"We weren't ready," Parise said. "They were ready right from the beginning of the game and we weren't. They took advantage and we couldn't get back."
Brodeur saw Luongo's stop on Parise as key.
"We had a good look at scoring a goal to tie the game, and he made a good save there," said Brodeur. "That, at the end, you look at that save and it probably made the difference."
Goals by Alex Edler and Jannik Hansen in the opening six minutes of the third period put the contest out of reach. A Patrik Elias blast from the right circle was one of the Devils' best chances on their two-man advantage for 1:06 midway through the third, but they couldn't capitalize.
"We had two good opportunities off of that, great chances there, too," Elias said. "They played it well. They took Rollie's (Brian Rolston) shot away there. We should have tried to use a little bit more down low. Obviously, you'd like to score every time in that situation. It's not always going to happen. I had a good shot there, he just made a pretty good save on me."
Elias explained that Luongo leaves shooters little net at which to shoot.
"He made saves when he saw them," he said. "He's that good of a goalie that he's going to do that. I don't think we had enough in front of him, creating screens. In the second period we had pretty good opportunities, he made a few big saves. He's big. You look at him and he's big in the net. You have to try to get him moving, get as many shots, get the rebounds and we didn't do that."
The red light went on five times in the roller-coaster first period. The Canucks took a 3-0 lead in a six-minute window before the Devils answered with two strikes in the final four minutes.
The Sedin twins factored into each of the Canucks' first three scores.
Daniel Sedin's wrister from above the circles was redirected in front by Burrows to open the scoring at 6:33. Henrik Sedin got the secondary assist on Sami Salo's blast from the right point that tipped off Parise's stick and past Brodeur at 10:03.
Daniel Sedin made it a three-goal visitors' lead by collecting Burrows' touch pass at the blue line and walking in for a slapper from the left circle at 12:32.
Bergfors cashed in on a 4-on-4 to notch his second goal in four games and put New Jersey on the board.
Jamie Langenbrunner and Ryan Kesler were in the box for roughing when Greene picked up a head of steam at the Canucks blueline and split the Vancouver defense. He lost control at the left circle, but Bergfors pounced and snapped a laser by Luongo at 16:05.
Zajac's second goal in five games came on the tail end of a Devils scramble in front. He beat Luongo inside the left post to make the score 3-2 at 19:54.
Both goaltenders settled down to stop 10 shots apiece in the scoreless second. Brodeur thwarted a point-blank chance by Henrik Sedin from the bottom of the right circle five minutes into the frame.
Vancouver sealed it with two more goals in the opening six minutes of the third.
Edler, who had a goal and two assists, collected a pass from Kesler for a shot from the top of the left circle that eluded Brodeur through traffic at 1:36. With the score 4-2, Hansen converted on a 2-on-1 with Kevin Bieksa to put Vancouver ahead by three at 5:18.
Lemaire suggested a tough practice might be on the horizon in the wake of the loss.
"We'll start with a good practice," he said. "They need a good practice tomorrow. We've been going easy feeling that they might be a little tired and this and that. With Christmas coming, everyone their mind is going somewhere else, so we'll try to put their mind back on the game."
• Rob Niedermayer returned to action after missing 11 games with an upper body injury. He saw 20 shifts for 14:55 of ice time centering Matt Halischuk and Vladimir Zharkov.
• New Jersey allowed a season-high five goals for the third time this year, and second time in their last five outings. … Greene now has as many assists (10) as his previous career high in points. … Hockey Canada announced today that 36 players were invited to selection camp for Canada’s National Junior Team. The list includes Devils prospects, Patrice Cormier and Adam Henrique.
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