Niedermayer gave the Devils a 3-1 lead in the third period.
Maybe there was no better way for the Devils to honor their 1995 Stanley Cup title than with Saturday's win over the visiting Detroit Red Wings.
New Jersey's '95 squad was celebrated in a pre-game ceremony Saturday at Prudential Center before the current Devils hit the ice to notch a 4-3 shootout victory over the Red Wings.
Patrik Elias scored in the shootout's fourth round to break a 1-1 tie after Pavel Datsyuk and Zach Parise traded tallies in the first round. Elias deked before beating Chris Osgood on his backhand.
Martin Brodeur made 29 saves, including 10 in the third period, and stopped Henrik Zetterberg, Todd Bertuzzi and Ville Leino in the shootout. Brodeur notched his NHL-record 33rd shootout victory.
The Devils were a left post away from ending it in overtime. Mike Mottau's shot was tipped in front by Travis Zajac 1:01 into OT, but rang off the iron.
In the end, New Jersey (19-7-1) won for the eighth time in their last nine home games and snapped a four-game losing streak against Detroit. Their last victory over the Red Wings came on Jan. 28, 2003, when Brodeur posted a 1-0 shutout at the Meadowlands.
Jamie Langenbrunner, Johnny Oduya and Rob Niedermayer all scored in regulation for the Devils, who held leads of 2-0 and 3-1. New Jersey welcomed back Oduya (lower body, 15 games missed), and Jay Pandolfo (shoulder, 17 games), who added an assist.
Head coach Jacques Lemaire was thrilled with their return.
"Just great," he said. "Just great, the intensity. Oduya was so smooth on the ice, the skating. I was surprised. I haven't seen him skate like this since the start. So, I was impressed with the way they skate. Good puck control. Got caught a couple of times, but he was trying hard and played really well.
"Pandolfo, just a great game, also. Same worker, and he's a guy that's easy to coach. Just put him on the ice and he's going to do the job."
Lemaire watched a solid win against a Wings team that was missing injured regulars Johan Franzen, Valtteri Filppula, Jason Williams, Niklas Kronwall, and ex-Devil Brian Rafalski.
"This is a team that I know they have injuries and it was the right time, I feel, to play them and get a win," he said. "I know we had to go to a shootout, but hey, it's a dangerous team, it's a team that can score at any time. As soon as you drop your intensity, they take over. But I'm glad with the way we played. I thought we played well."
The Devils swept heavily-favored Detroit in 1995 to capture the first championship in franchise history. Lemaire, the man behind the bench at the time, enjoyed seeing familiar faces from the Cup run – Ken Daneyko, Jim Dowd, Bruce Driver, Chris McAlpine, Mike Peluso and Valeri Zelepukin – back on the ice on Saturday.
Brodeur, of course, was between the pipes for all three of New Jersey's titles.
"It put a smile to my face when I saw Mikey P. (Peluso) and a couple guys that I haven't seen in a long time, like Zelly (Zelepukin)," Brodeur said. "This is part of our history in New Jersey. That's how we started to build this hockey club; the respect. It all started with the '95 Cup, so it was definitely a great night for the fans to appreciate, and the players that were a part of it really appreciated this. Even though I'm still playing, I see these guys, I'm sure they were pretty happy to be around the ice and be part of the history of the Devils."
Jersey's Team swept its fourth straight back-to-back to take three of four on the homestand. Since opening 0-3 at home, New Jersey has won nine of 11 at Prudential Center.
Unlike their sluggish start in Friday's win over Tampa Bay, the Devils found their stride early. Langenbrunner and Oduya had New Jersey ahead, 2-0, after 20 minutes.
The captain opened the scoring at 15:29 with his seventh of the season, and second in as many nights. Parise carried into the Detroit zone and left for Zajac, who fired a shot wide off the end boards. Parise got to the loose puck at the bottom of the left circle and chopped it across the slot to the right circle, where Langenbrunner banged it home.
Just 1:56 later, Oduya showcased his speed to put the Devils up by a pair.
Oduya gloved down Jonathan Ericsson's floater as it headed for the Devils' net, and raced end-to-end before snapping his first of the year underneath Osgood from the left circle at 17:25. Oduya's first point of the season came in his 12th game.
"Johnny O's been working really hard to get back in the lineup with his injury," Brodeur said. "It's kind of nice for him to get his feet wet, especially going end-to-end. We call him 'Johnny Orr' for a reason."
Kris Draper trimmed the New Jersey lead to 2-1 at 9:23 of the second. Oduya's check along the boards only got a piece of Darren Helm, who moved into the Devils zone for a shot from the right circle. Draper crashed the net for a rebound and was stopped by Brodeur before he tapped the puck over the line with a second effort.
"I'm not too happy about that play, but I'd rather, in my first game coming back, keep my legs going and try to get in the game and get in the situations," Oduya said. "After that, you can adjust things as you go along."
Niedermayer restored the two-goal lead with his third of the season and first since coming back from injury three games ago.
Pandolfo gained the Detroit blueline on a 3-on-2, and fed cross-ice for Vladimir Zharkov, who fired the puck on net from the right boards. Niedermayer went to the net to bang the rebound through Osgood at 14:43.
"My legs are starting to feel a bit better," said Niedermayer. "I think I still have a little ways to go, but it's certainly nice to be back in the lineup."
Late in the second, Elias was whistled for dragging down Nicklas Lidstrom behind the Detroit net, and the Wings took advantage. Tomas Holmstrom redirected Stuart's point shot past Brodeur with 29.1 seconds left in the frame to put Detroit within a goal at 3-2 entering the third.
Patrick Eaves tied the game at 3-3 with the lone goal of the third. He tipped Justin Abdelkader's shot from the right boards underneath Brodeur at 9:30.
Brodeur and the Devils improved to 5-1 in the shootout with their first of the year on home ice. … Langenbrunner extended his points streak to four games (2g-3a). … Pandolfo blasted a shot off Osgood's arm 57 seconds into the third period that was headed over the line before Brad Stuart backhanded away from the goal.
• In the shootout, Parise turned Osgood inside-out with a forehand deke.
"I used to call it 'The Beanpot,'" Parise said. "I remember watching Tony Amonte do it in the Beanpot (college hockey tournament) I don't know how many years ago. But I kind of stole it from him."
Parise has scored on four of six shootout chances this season.
"Usually I have my mind made up before I go in, but you still pay attention to where (the goalie) is in the net, if he's playing deep or he's playing out," Parise said. "There I thought I had room to go around him."
• As soon as he saw Zelepukin on Saturday, Lemaire was reminded of a story from the 1995 season.
"The team wasn't going well at that time, and I got all the guys in one room," Lemaire recounted. "The only room I could get was about 10 by 13 and we had the whole crew there. Zelly was sitting on the floor in front of me because there were only a couple of chairs. I said, 'Hey guys, if we keep losing, you know what's going to happen. Something's going to happen. Any GM, they can't accept that. We have to start to think about doing something. I'm telling you, what do you think is going to happen if we keep losing?' And then everyone was really quiet, and Zelly said, 'Coach fired.' He wasn't speaking English (well). Then he says, 'Coach fired?' So I said, 'That too.'"
• Brodeur was reluctant to compare the current team to the '95 team.
"Well, we've got a few old guys in here and some young guys," he said. "But it's kind of hard, until you go through it, to compare teams because it's so much something that is special to win a Stanley Cup that it's really hard to compare one to another. When you play, you like have hints of, 'Wow, this looks like it,' but until you get it done, no team is like a Stanley Cup team."