A little line tinkering by Peter DeBoer helped rejuvenate the Devils' attack on Tuesday.
Dainius Zubrus scored twice, Patrik Elias notched a goal and an assist and Petr Sykora added two helpers in the Devils' 3-0 victory over the host Los Angeles Kings.
Johan Hedberg made 31 saves for his first shutout of the season, 18th of his career. In his fourth straight start, he improved to 4-1-1 and captured his first shutout since Feb. 22.
"I think that's our best 60-minute effort so far, top to bottom," DeBoer said. "That's a very good L.A. team. We came in here and, I thought right from the drop of the puck, competed for 60 minutes. We bent in some spots of the game, but didn't break. I thought our goaltender was great when he needed to be."
The Devils (4-2-1), who snapped a two-game winless skid, struck for all three goals in a 5:14 span of the second period. The Kings registered seven of the first eight shots in the second, but it was all New Jersey the rest of the way.
Zubrus opened the scoring with his first of the season, driving to the net to put in an Andy Greene rebound at 13:12. Zubrus' chip shot went off Jonathan Bernier's left shoulder as Zubrus fell into the net. The goal was allowed to stand after a lengthy video review.
Bernier started in place of Jonathan Quick, who got the night off after recording three straight shutouts.
Elias upped it to a 2-0 lead at 15:31 with his team-leading fourth of the year. He finished a pretty passing play that went from Greene to Sykora to Elias for a one-timer inside the right post from the right circle.
Zubrus, whose last goal came as part of a two-goal performance at Carolina on Feb. 19, added his second of the night on a slapper from the left circle at 18:26.
I think that's our best 60-minute effort so far, top to bottom. That's a very good L.A. team. We came in here and, I thought right from the drop of the puck, competed for 60 minutes.- Coach Peter DeBoer
"It just clicked right from the start," DeBoer said. "I think putting Zubrus back on the wing where he's more comfortable, I think he did a great job winning puck battles. Patrik's been off to a great start, and I think that was Petr's best game for us to date. They were on tonight."
DeBoer debuted some new looks on the west coast trip, moving Zach Parise to center on a line with Ilya Kovalchuk and Nick Palmieri. The switch showed early promise in the scoreless first period, when the trio generated strong pressure right from the opening puck drop.
"I thought they were good," DeBoer said. "I thought Zach looked very good in the middle for his first game there since college. I thought he did a great job, he had good speed, created a lot of chances. It gave us some real good momentum."
The Devils set the tone in the opening frame, and, if not for a couple of bad breaks, could have carried a 2-0 lead into the intermission.
David Clarkson hit the post with 6:48 to go, after an Adam Henrique setup from the right side. Later, with 3:34 left in the first, Clarkson's goal was waved off because Tallinder was ruled to be in the crease.
"I thought we deserved one in the first, the way we played," DeBoer said. "We didn't get one. We stuck with it and finally got rewarded. I think we're going to have to do that all season. I think it's going to have to be: stick with the program, keep plugging away and wait for chances."
Hedberg answered the bell late in the first to protect the scoreless tie. A Mike Richards rush caught the Devils in a change, but Hedberg helped break up Richards' pass for Alec Martinez.
"It's a great feeling," Hedberg told MSG's Deb Placey. "Obviously we struggled a bit scoring goals last game [against Pittsburgh]. Tonight, we knew we were up against a very, very good team and we wanted to play a strong team game and I think we did. I think we had a good first period and didn't get rewarded, but we did in the second and we had a couple of really, really nice goals."
Kovalchuk led the Devils with four shots. Parise finished with three and went 9-for-14 on draws.
"It felt a lot better than I thought," Parise said of the shift to center. "I felt like I had the puck a lot, I felt like I made decent plays with it. I think if they decide to keep me there, it can only get better."
The Devils' penalty kill was tested early in the middle frame when Palmieri was called for high sticking Kings captain Dustin Brown at 4:51. Henrique hit the Devils' second post of the game, pinging the iron while shorthanded at 5:49.
The trip continues Thursday in Phoenix, and Saturday in Dallas. The Devils return home to host Toronto next Wednesday, Nov. 2.
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