The New Jersey Devils, if anything, have proven themselves worthy of the term "comeback kids". This is their 6th win of the season in which they did not score the first goal. In almost a carbon copy of their win over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday, the Devils fell down fairly early and looked pretty terrible in the first half of the game, yet came back hard and ended up dominating the second half of the tilt. They went on to defeat the Penguins by a score of 4-1, the exact same score they beat the Stanley Cup Champions (who were decimated by injuries much like New Jersey) by on October 24th.
NHL.com has all the highlights, stats and recaps from a win that puts the Devils for a tie for first place in the conference (first overall by how many wins they have) with the Washington Capitals, whom they play on Saturday night and have beaten in come-from-behind fashion twice already this season. The Devils open up a two-point gap over Pittsburgh in the Atlantic Division standings, and have two games in hand on Pittsburgh this early in the season. So while we're not overreacting, but this has sure been fun to watch.
It wasn't fun to watch at the start of the game, however. The Devils were pretty terrible in the 1st period. Attribute it to flying after the 3-1 win over Anaheim last night to get to the Igloo, attribute it to whatever. The fact is, New Jersey had a bad first period, and it's only credited to Marty Brodeur, who had 25 saves tonight with 8 of them coming in the 1st, and many of them huge coming in the early second period as the Devils struggled to get going even then. The one chance he could not stop was a jam at the front of the net as Russlan Fedotenko kept punching away at Brodeur and finally tapped it in at 11:32.
The Devils continued to struggle until mid-way through the 2nd period. Then, something happened. A good shift from one line. Then another. And another. Then, the Parise-Zajac-Bergfors line showed up and got some flow going, and Travis Zajac dug down and got the puck to Zach Parise, who made a sweet pass across to Niclas Bergfors breaking into the shot who ripped it under the arm of Marc-Andre Fleury to make it 1-1 at 13:50.
The Devils got a massive goal later in the 2nd on the power play. Jersey's team has been very good with the man advantage lately, though they did go empty last night vs. the Ducks. However, the Devils got one on the power play when Zajac made a nifty pass to Andy Greene at the point. The breakout star on the blueline this season fired a shot that deflected perfectly of the skate of Penguin defender Ben Lovejoy (super) and the Devils, all of a sudden, after being outplayed most of the game, took a 2-1 lead headed into the 3rd.
The Penguins had a power play headed to the 3rd. They got some chances, and Sidney Crosby hit two consecutive posts, and then took a penalty to kill any more Pens momentum. The Devils didn't get anything on their half of the power play, but soon after, Parise had the favor for that great pass he made to Bergfors earlier, with an equally slick pass by Zajac. Travis made a brilliant play to break up a break out from the Penguins and drove in and make a terrific feed from a nearly impossible position to Parise who made no mistake in roofing it past Fleury to make it 3-1.
After that, the Devils kind of dominated, though were not rewarded. They had odd-man rush after odd-man rush, but failed to score. The Penguins pulled the goaltender Fleury towards the end of the game, to little avail. The Penguins got stopped dead in their tracks at some point. David Clarkson killed off the rest of the clock and put it in the back of the net on a bouncing backhander with just seconds left to make it 4-1. The Devils came on real strong tonight, they are no doubt resilient. They have now won 7 straight, 13 of 15 overall, and are now one win on the road away (Monday in Philadelphia) from tying a record for most road wins consecutively. But first, Washington on Saturday. See you then.