Langenbrunner’s empty-net goal at 19:18 gave the Devils a three goal lead over the Predators, 5-2, tonight at the Prudential Center.
Langenbrunner caused a turnover at the blue line and easily flicked the puck into the empty net for his 15th goal of the season.
Parise’s powerplay goal at 13:08 increased the Devils lead over the Predators, 4-2.
With Dan Hamhuis in the box for tripping, Kovalchuk carried the puck down the side boards. He tried to pass the puck to the front, but it deflected off of defenseman Shea Weber’s skate. The puck slid into the slot, where Parise put a wrist shot past Rinne for his 27th goal of the season.
That was the first powerplay tally of the night for the Devils. They were 0-for-4 with the man advantage to that point.
Kovalchuk’s goal at 8:24 of the period broke the tie.
Elias carried the puck up the side boards and sent a backhanded pass to a wide-open, streaking Kovalchuk. The Devils left-winger skated to the slot and sent a wrist shot past the outstretched glove of Rinne for his first goal as a Devil.
After he scored the goal, some fans decided to throw their hats on the ice to celebrate the goal.
This game would not be close if not for the play of Rinne. The Predators goalie has made some incredible saves tonight, and, even though the Devils missed a few opportunities, Rinne has had to stand on his head to keep his team in the game.
Devils coach Jacques Lemaire once again shifted his lines tonight. Patrick Elias is now centering a line with Kovalchuk and Langenbrunner. Dainius Zubrus moved up to the first line and is playing right wing with Parise and Zajac.
Kovalchuk almost had his first goal as a Devil with 22 seconds left in the second period. With the Devils in the zone, Elias carried the puck behind the goal line. He sent a pass to the front, but Kovalchuk couldn’t put the puck past Rinne.
The Predators led the period in shots, 10-9. The Devils lead in total shots, 22-16.
Patrick Elias’ goal at 2:30 in the second period tied the game, 2-2.
Elias received the puck at the blue line and took a slapshot from the point that beat Rinne high for his 11th goal of the season.
Jordin Tootoo’s goal 46 seconds into the second period put the Predators ahead, 2-1.
The goal was a bad one by Brodeur. Tootoo skated in over the blue line and used a Devils defenseman to screen Brodeur high. He snuck the puck low on Brodeur for his fourth goal of the season.
The Devils have now been outscored, 12-1, in the second period in their last six games.
The Devils outshot the Predators, 13-6, in the first period.
Patrick Elias had a chance to give the Devils a lead late in the first. With 20 seconds left in the period, Elias found a way to slip behind the Predators defense. He received the puck at the blue line and moved in on a breakaway and carried the puck to the slot. He let go a wrist shot low, but Rinne blocked the puck with his pads for the stop.
Cal O’Reilly’s powerplay goal at 18:30 of the first period tied the game.
Dan Hamhuis began the play at the point. Hamhuis sent a pass to Colin Wilson in the left circle, and he found O’Reilly in the slot with a perfect pass. O’Reilly’s shot beat Brodeur high glove side, where it bounced off the crossbar and in for the goal.
It’s O’Reilly’s second goal of the season.
Parise had a golden opportunity to give the Devils a two-goal lead during a 5-on-3 powerplay chance. Langenbrunner sent the puck from the point to Parise in the right circle. Parise had an open net, but put the puck through the crease.
The Devils also seemed to be trying to get Ilya Kovalchuk set up for some shots during that powerplay. They moved the puck well, but it seemed they were trying to force it to him.
Travis Zajac’s starting the scoring at 9:49 of the first period.
Jamie Langenbrunner carried the puck into the Predators zone, where he skated around three defensemen. He went into the slot and held the puck just below the goal line, bringing goalie Pekka Rinne out of the net. Langenbrunner sent a pass from behind the net to Zajac in front, who tapped the puck into the empty net for his 19th goal of the season.
The Devils are forcing the action of play early. They’ve placed a lot of pressure on the Predators forwards, causing several turnovers on the forecheck. They’ve also been driving to the net and getting off quick shots. At just over eight minutes into the first, the Devils lead the shot total, 7-1.
Tonight’s game is the final home game for the Devils before the Olympic break. The team will play in Carolina tomorrow night, and their next home game will be March 10 against the Rangers.
Zach Parise will dress and play in tonight’s game. The Devils left-winger missed the game Wednesday night against the Flyers with a stiff neck.
The Devils two recent call ups, Matt Corrente and Cory Murphy, will dress and play in tonight’s game. Andrew Peters and Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond (placed on injured reserve today with an undisclosed injury) are the scratches tonight.
Here are the lineups from pre-game warmups (according to Tom Gulitti, Bergen Record reporter)
Zach Parise – Travis Zajac – Jamie Langenbrunner
Ilya Kovalchuk – Dainius Zubrus – Patrick Elias
Brian Rolston – Rob Niedermayer – Vladmir Zharkov
Rod Pelley – Dean McAmmond – Matt Corrente
Bryce Salvador – Andy Greene
Colin White – Mike Mottau
Mark Fraser – Cory Murphy