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Elias reaches milestone, helps Devils past Panthers

Jan 7, 2012 - 4:05 AM
Newark, NJ (Sports Network) - Patrik Elias, playing in his 1,000th career game, assisted on Ilya Kovalchuk's go-ahead goal midway through the third period, and the New Jersey Devils beat the Florida Panthers, 5-2, on Friday

Elias had a goal and two assists and joined Ken Daneyko and teammate Martin Brodeur as the only players to reach the 1,000-game mark as career-long Devils.

Since being selected in the second round of the 1994 draft by the Devils, Elias has gone on to become New Jersey's all-time regular-season leader in just about every single offensive category.

"I was pretty excited to play this game. Even if it's your first NHL game I think the adrenalin and excitement is the same," Elias said.

Kovalchuk had two goals for the Devils, who snapped a two-game skid, while Adam Henrique and Zach Parise both had a goal and an assist.

Johan Hedberg made 22 saves for the victors.

Mikael Samuelsson and Krystofer Barch lit the lamp for the Panthers, who have lost two in a row and six of eight. Jacob Markstrom turned aside 24-of-27 shots. Barch returned from a one-game suspension for uttering a racial remark in the direction of Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban last week.

With the score tied at 2-2, Elias and Kovalchuk hooked up for the go-ahead goal at the 11:40 mark of the third period. Elias carried the puck down the left wing and to the bottom of the circle before passing in front to Kovalchuk, whose tip-in found the back of the net.

Parise was sent to the penalty box for a delay of game with 2:52 to play and Florida pulled Markstrom with 30 seconds left on the power play for a two-man advantage.

But Kovalchuk's empty-net goal made it a 4-2 contest. Parise also added an empty-net goal to account for the final margin.

The Devils drew first blood at the 3:53 mark of the first period. Parise won a battle for the puck behind the net and slid a pass in front for Henrique, whose backhander beat Markstrom.

Samuelsson tied the game exactly four minutes later on a snap shot from the top of the right circle.

Elias' slapper from the high slot made it a 2-1 game just 36 seconds into the middle stanza.

The back-and-forth battle continued about two minutes later. Barch's snap shot from the slot got past Hedberg to make it 2-2.

Game Notes

Florida has lost five of seven and 11 of its last 14 at New Jersey...Ex-Devil John Madden made his Panthers debut on Friday...The Devils were without Travis Zajac (left Achilles tendon soreness) and Anton Volchenkov (right leg strain)...The Panthers have been outscored 28-9 over a six-game slide on the road (0-3-3).