Game 78: Devils Break Scoring Slump, Defeat Carolina, 4-0

In their past three games, the New Jersey Devils offense went missing.

The team only mustered two goals in their previous three games, losing all three.

The Devils offense broke out, scoring three goals as the Devils shut out the Carolina Hurricanes, 4-0, tonight at the RBC Center.

 

With the win, the Devils leapfrogged the Pittsburgh Penguins and moved into second place in the Eastern Conference and first in the Atlantic Division. While both teams have 97 points, the Devils swept the Penguins this season, which gives New Jersey the tiebreaker.

Dainius Zubrus began the scoring at 13:13 of the first period. With Chad LaRose in the box for interference, Carolina defenseman Tom Kostopoulos couldn’t clear the puck at the point. Zach Parise stole the puck and tapped it ahead to Zubrus, who was all alone in the left circle. The winger skated toward the net and put a wrist shot through the pads of goalie Cam Ward for his ninth goal of the season.

Patrik Elias increased the Devils lead to two at 18:18 of the period. Ilya Kovalchuk skated the puck into the Hurricanes zone and stopped along the side boards. He sent a pass to the center of the zone, where Elias received the pass. The center held the puck and skated into the right circle. His shot sailed over Ward’s shoulder and into the net for his 16th goal of the year.

Parise increased the lead to three at 7:34 of the third period. Parise passed the puck to Zubrus behind the net, and the winger put a quick shot on Ward. The Carolina goalie left a rebound in front, and a scrum ensued to clear it. Parise found the puck and skated it below the goal line. The left-winger shot the puck in off of Ward’s pads for his 36th goal of the season.

David Clarkson scored the fourth and final goal at 18:28 of the period. With Ward on the bench for an extra attacker, Kovalchuk gained control of the puck in his zone. The winger passed the puck to Elias at the blue line, and he found Clarkson ahead of the Carolina defense at the red line. The right-winger skated down into the zone and slid the puck into the empty net for his 10th goal of the season.

It wasn’t just the Devils offense playing a great game. Martin Brodeur was busy in net, making some highlight reel saves to preserve the shutout.

Brodeur made a spectacular save at 5:48 of the first period to keep the ‘Canes off the board. With Mike Mottau in the box for hooking, Brett Carson pinched from the slot and into the right circle. He took a shot, but Brodeur slid across the crease and stacked the pass to kick the puck away.

The Devils goalie had to make another great save in the third period. Drayson Bowman carried the puck along the side boards, firing a shot at 13:50 of the period. Erik Staal crashed the net, trying to bring the puck from his backhand to his forehand. The puck skipped away from him, and Bowman put a backhanded shot on net that Brodeur stopped and held.

Brodeur stopped 26 shots for his eighth shutout of the season.

Ward stopped 25 shots in the loss.

With the win, the Devils snap their three-game losing streak. Their next game will be Tuesday in Atlanta.

Game Notes:

The Devils controlled the tempo of play throughout, and they looked like the hungrier team. Analyst Ken Daneyko said it was the best 60 minute Devil game they played “in a month”…Kovalchuk assisted on two goals tonight, bringing his point total to 11 points in the past seven games…Brodeur’s shutout was his first since January 20th against the Florida Panthers.

Photo Credit: Gerry Broome/AP Photo

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