for this game

Devils earn first win of season against Islanders

Feb 23, 2008 - 10:04 PM
By Daren Smith PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

NEWARK, New Jersey (Ticker) -- A dominant third period by the New Jersey Devils ended a season's worth of frustration against the New York Islanders.

Zach Parise and Brian Gionta scored 2:13 apart early in the final period as the surging Devils snapped the Islanders' six-game winning streak with a 4-2 triumph on Saturday afternoon.

New York had taken the first five meetings with New Jersey, which had not lost six games to the same team in the same season since 1993-94. The Devils avoided matching that dubious distinction with a third period in which they outshot the Islanders, 20-4.

"It pushes them down, it keeps us going," Parise said. "Mentally, for us, we showed we can beat them. Now let's try to beat the Rangers."

The Devils also have lost all five meetings with the Rangers this season.

Parise, whose father spent three seasons with the Isles in the 1970s, broke a 2-2 deadlock with 17 1/2 minutes left. Travis Zajac banked a pass from his own zone off the boards that Parise tracked down just inside the New York blue line. While veering right to left, he wristed a shot inside the far goalpost to extend his goal-scoring streak to five games.

"(Islanders defenseman Aaron Johnson) whiffed on it and I got a step on him," Parise said. "I won a footrace and was just trying to get the puck on net."

Gionta struck moments later. The diminutive winger checked 188-pound defenseman Bruno Gervais in the left corner, sent the puck to the left point, then curled the rebound of defenseman Colin White's shot around goaltender Rick DiPietro for his 16th goal of the season and third in six games.

Patrik Elias and John Madden scored in the first period for the Devils, who have won four straight and have picked up points in each of the last seven games (6-0-1). They moved atop the Eastern Conference with 77 points, one more than Ottawa and two better than Pittsburgh and Montreal.

"We had the attitude that it was all about us," said New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur, who made 19 saves for his league-leading 34th win. "Sometimes you play a team a lot and it gets in your head. I think we did good things out there today."

Josef Vasicek and Ruslan Fedotenko tallied for New York, which remained one point behind three teams for the final playoff berth in the East.

"The effort was there, but I don't think we maybe had enough fight in us," Islanders captain Bill Guerin said. "I would have liked to have seen us battle a little more. I don't think we played our best game for 60 minutes."

Fedotenko's goal just under two minutes into the second period forged a 2-2 tie. But the Isles lost the momentum when they totaled two shots during a 77-second two-man advantage.

"I think we were trying too many cute plays on the 5-on-3," Guerin said. "They've got some great penalty-killers, some really experienced guys. You're not going to fool guys like Madden, (Jay) Pandolfo, (Paul) Martin and (Sergei) Brylin."

"That's a huge kill," Devils coach Brent Sutter said. "To kill that off, I think we only gave up one shot, the score was still 2-2. We weathered that and got through the period."

Vasicek had opened the scoring 7:55 into the game, tipping Andy Hilbert's shot past Brodeur off a turnover by White.

The Devils tied it on the power play less than 2 1/2 minutes later when Elias blasted a one-timer from above the right faceoff circle past DiPietro's glove. They grabbed the lead just 80 seconds after as Madden finished off a shorthanded 2-on-1 by banking a backhander off diving defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron and past DiPietro.

Brodeur enjoyed his best sequence with just over a minute to go in the opening period. He made a diving pokecheck to deny Miroslav Satan on a breakaway, then recovered to sweep the rebound away from defenseman Freddy Meyer.

"(Satan's) head was down when I went out to pokecheck," Brodeur said. "I looked up and there was somebody else there. I got a little lucky."