NEWARK, N.J. – The New Jersey Devils honoured their 1995 team that swept Detroit to claim the franchise’s first Stanley Cup championship. Then they went out and beat the Red Wings again.
After blowing a two-goal lead Saturday night, the Devils recovered to win 4-3 in a shootout on Patrik Elias’ decisive goal.
It was the Devils’ second straight victory overall and eighth in the last nine games at home. It also marked the fourth straight sweep of a back-to-back set by the Devils and was their first win since Jan. 28, 2003, over the Red Wings, who had won four in a row against them.
“This is a team that I know has a few injuries,” Devils coach Jacques Lemaire said of Detroit. “It was the right time to play them and get a win.”
Jamie Langenbrunner, Johnny Oduya and Rob Niedermayer scored in regulation for the Devils (19-7-1). Kris Draper, Tomas Holmstrom and Patrick Eaves had goals for the Red Wings (13-10-5).
Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk and the Devils’ Zach Parise matched goals to open the shootout. But the following two shooters for each team failed to score.
Ville Leino started the fourth round for Detroit, but was stopped by Martin Brodeur. Elias then beat Chris Osgood, who went for a poke check.
“He’s got such quick hands,” Osgood said. “I just missed it.”
Elias, who has just three regulation goals in 13 games since returning from a groin injury, went to his backhand and scored from the right doorstep.
“Patty has been playing really well, but he has nothing to show for it to a certain extent,” Brodeur said. “He had a couple of big games and missed a few opportunities. He wanted this, and he made a great move on Osgood.”
The Red Wings fought back from a two-goal deficit and tied it 3-3 with 10:30 left in regulation when Eaves tipped Justin Abdelkader’s shot from the right boards past Brodeur.
Detroit, the 2008 Stanley Cup champion and the runner-up last season, rally despite being short-handed again. Forwards Johan Franzen, Valtteri Filppula and Jason Williams, and defencemen Niklas Kronwall and Andreas Lilja are out for an extended period because of injuries. Also, former Devils defenceman Brian Rafalski sat out his second straight game because of a back injury.
“We’re missing a lot of guys,” Osgood said. “We played hard. It’s a tough team to play against. They’re real good defensively. It was a wake-up call for us. We’ve really got to play better the first half of games than we have the last three or four games.”
The Devils have had their own injury problems, but they’re getting healthy. Left winger Jay Pandolfo returned after missing 17 games, and Oduya came back following a 15-day absence caused by a lower body injury.
After Langenbrunner made it 1-0 with 4:31 left in the first period, Oduya scored 2 minutes later. It was Oduya’s first goal and point this season, covering 12 games.
“It was nice,” Oduya said. “It’s something that doesn’t happen too often to me. I see it as a bonus. Now it’s just keep going and get better and work on some things.”
In the second period, Draper beat Brodeur to cut it to 2-1 before Niedermayer, who returned on Wednesday after missing 11 games with an upper body injury, banged in a rebound to make it a two-goal game again. But with 29.1 seconds left in the period, Holmstrom tipped in a shot, and the Devils’ lead was down to 3-2.
The Red Wings almost scored in the final minute of regulation, but Brodeur dove on a loose puck in the crease.
Brodeur was also the goalie who stopped Detroit in the 1995 finals.
“It was great memories, great memories,” said Lemaire, who was the coach then and is now in the first season of his second stint in charge of the Devils.
NOTES: Devils rookie D Matt Corrente was scratched, and rookie RW Matt Halischuk was assigned to Lowell of the AHL. … Ken Daneyko, Jim Dowd, Bruce Driver, Chris McAlpine, Mike Peluso and Valeri Zelepukin were players from the 1995 Devils team who returned and stepped out on a red carpet over the ice for the pregame festivities. Daneyko dropped the ceremonial first puck. Besides Brodeur, current Devils forward Brian Rolston was also on that championship team.