The Devils closed out their five-game road trip in disappointing fashion on Monday, losing to the Islanders, 4-0, at Nassau Coliseum.
Rick DiPietro stopped 20 shots to record his 15th career shutout and first in nearly two years. He was rarely tested, though, as the Devils were outshot, 46-20.
Matt Moulson had a pair of goals for New York, which scored twice in each of the first two periods. The Devils (32-14-1) wrapped up the trip by dropping three straight in regulation for the first time this season.
Jersey's Team was without Patrik Elias, who was injured by a Ryan Wilson hit Saturday in Colorado. Elias was set to be evaluated by team physicians this week, although no timetable has been announced for his return.
In his 26th straight start, Martin Brodeur stopped 28 of 32 shots through two periods and was relieved by Yann Danis to begin the third. Danis stopped all 14 shots he faced in his sixth appearance of the season, third in relief. He last played on Jan. 10 in the back-half of the Tampa Bay game that was postponed because of a lighting outage at Prudential Center.
Playing their fourth game in seven nights, including stops in Phoenix and Colorado, the Devils looked a step behind to Jacques Lemaire. It was their first defeat in three meetings with their division rivals after outscoring them 8-2 in two previous encounters.
"I guess they're tired from the trip," said the head coach. "If you're not used to it, and you don't get the proper rest, you'll get tired easily."
The Devils are back home this week to host Florida on Wednesday and Montreal on Friday. They return to the Island on Saturday.
"We're making mistakes, we have the puck on our sticks and we haven't decided what we're going to do with it," Lemaire said. "Somebody takes it away, they make a play and they have a goal. It's being sharp mentally, not only physically."
Better starts could be just the thing to spark a turnaround. The Devils have faced 2-0 first-period deficits in each of their last three outings.
"They picked us apart early in the game with 18 shots in the first, and good, quality shots, also," Brodeur told MSG. "They controlled the puck for most of their power plays and that kind of got us tired having to kill so much. I think that affected us for the rest of the game."
Lemaire believes his team can get back on track. They trail Washington by one point for the conference top spot, but lead Pittsburgh by four points in the division race.
"I would be very concerned if we hadn't had the trip," he explained. "I'm a little concerned because I can see we're slipping a bit."
The Islanders jumped out to a 2-0 lead early. It would have been worse if not for a disallowed goal and some tremendous goaltending by Brodeur.
Moulson put New York ahead 1:07 into the contest. He collected his own rebound at the right circle and backhanded his 18th of the season to give New York a 1-0 lead.
Following a scramble moments later, Richard Park flipped a loose puck into an open left side, but the goal was waved off because play had already been blown dead.
With Rod Pelley off for putting the puck over the glass, Mark Streit lifted the Isles to a 2-0 edge with his seventh of the year on a blast from the top of the right circle at 3:44.
Brodeur had to be brilliant to keep it a two-goal deficit in the first. On the Devils' second of three penalty kills in the period, Brodeur slid to his right to rob Trent Hunter with the paddle of his goal stick at 9:08. Later, he threw out his left pad to thwart John Tavares on a PK with 6:47 to go.
The Devils enjoyed a stronger start to the second period, and nearly beat DiPietro early on. Zach Parise drove down the left side and rang a shot off the right post 6:35 into the middle frame. A trailing Niclas Bergfors floated a shot just wide of the right post on the rebound.
DiPietro, who has played three games since coming back 10 days ago from offseason surgery, last notched a shutout on Feb. 21, 2008.
The Islanders added to their lead with two redirection goals in the final five minutes of the second. Josh Bailey tipped Jack Hillen's backhand flip to make it 3-0 with his 12th at 15:42. Moulson netted his second of the game, 19th of the season, with 1:55 to go in the period.
Ilkka Pikkarainen replaced Elias in the lineup. He registered one shot in 7:44 of ice time. … Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond was back in action, and recorded two hits in 6:09. … New Jersey last went winless in three games (0-2-1) from Nov. 16-21. … The Devils have dropped their last three trips to Long Island.
Backhand shot -
1 - 0 NYI
2 - 0 NYI
3 - 0 NYI
4 - 0 NYI
Delaying Game-Puck over glass