Just as people were really starting to wonder what was wrong with the Devils at home early on this season, they come up looking like this. After what was a tense first 40 minutes, New Jersey came out swinging in the third and took the game over, ultimately defeating the Southeast-division leading Washington Capitals by a score of 3-2 at the Prudential Center, in front of a Yankees and no Ovechkin affected 13,498 at The Rock. For more on this game, head to NHL.com, where they have recaps, a box score, highlights and much more. JP over at Japer's Rink has the recap from the Capitals' side.
The Devils move to 2-4-0 at home, and 9-4-0 overall, giving them 18 points, good for 5th in the Eastern Conference, and 3rd in the Atlantic Division. They're point behind the Rangers for 4th (though the Rangers have played 3 more games, and will play another before NJD plays again) and six points behind the Penguins for 1st in the division and the conference, though the Pens have played two more than Jersey, and will play another before the Devils return to the ice Friday against the New York islanders. Most importantly, the New Jersey Devils - somehow - have won 9 of their last 11 games overall. Amazing.
The first period began slowly enough, and evenly enough. Toward the end of the period, the Caps started to take over. It'd be the only period they outshot the Devils in, 11-6. Rookie Matthew Perrault fed a quick little pass to defenseman-cum-forward Tyler Sloan, who flung one past Martin Brodeur to make it 1-0. Things were looking as grimly for the Devils after 20 minutes as they had during the team's last meeting.
But unlike the last meeting, the Devils didn't let it get to 2-0 before they got into it. Exactly like the last game, Brian Rolston sparked the turnaround. On some great low work by his line, which included the now-injured Rob Niedermyer (more on that tomorrow) and Jamie Langenbrunner, Rolston just sent one in front that ricocheted off of Mike Green in front and past Washington keeper Semyon Varlamov. The teams battled to a 1-1 score at the end of 40, with the Devils reversing the shotclock by a count of 11-6.
The Devils dominated the 3rd period, with no small amount of help to the Capitals, who somehow managed to take four minor penalties in the period. It took them till the 2nd one, on Alex Semin's second of three in the game, to convert. The Devils rushed up the ice, all five together. Travis Zajac sent a deft little pass onto Zach Parise, who in turn found Nicklas Bergfors open on the right wing. Bergfors uncorked a slapper that beat Varlamov to make it 2-1.
Brendan Morrison went off a few minutes later. The Devils didn't get too much going, but eventually set up Travis Zajac (who played the power play point tonight) who ripped one that Nicklas Bergfors got enough of to re-direct past Varlamov. It was Bergfors' 2nd of the game, his first NHL career 2-goal game, and it was 3-1. The Capitals added one from Tomas Fleischmann late in the 3rd, but the Devils and Marty Brodeur (who made 30 saves in the win) held on to defeat Washington 3-2.