The New Jersey Devils are playing so well that even an early two-goal deficit is no sweat.
Zach Parise’s breakaway highlighted a three-goal second period, and the Devils won their eighth straight game with a 5-2 victory over the Washington Capitals on Saturday night.
“That’s not the way we wanted to start,” said captain Jamie Langenbrunner, who started the big second period with a power-play goal. “But the one thing we have shown is that we are not letting little things like that rattle us. There was a lot of game left and we knew we hadn’t played well. We got one back in the first and from the second on, we played our game.”
Rookie Matt Halischuk and defencemen Colin White and Cory Murphy also scored, and Martin Brodeur had 27 saves as New Jersey ended the Capitals’ four-game winning streak and beat them for the third time in three meetings this season.
“We’ve been down before,” Devils centre Travis Zajac said. “We know how to win games and that’s been the common theme, we haven’t let it bother us and we have been able to come back and play better.”
Tomas Fleischmann and Mathieu Perreault scored in the opening 5:02 for Washington, but it was all New Jersey after that. The Devils scored five goals on 23 shots.
“We get up 2-0 and it seems we just think it is going to be an easy game,” Capitals defenceman Mike Green said. “There are still 40 minutes left in the game and we have some guys who maybe change their game a little bit, and we can’t have that. We have to play as a team. We have to play the same way for 60 minutes, and when we do we win games.”
The Capitals played their sixth straight game without two-time NHL MVP Alex Ovechkin, who sat out again because of an upper-body injury. He might return Tuesday in New York against the Rangers.
New Jersey’s eight consecutive wins are a league best this season. The Devils also will try to tie the NHL record for consecutive road wins to start the season when they go for their 10th straight on Monday in Philadelphia. Buffalo set the mark in 2006.
Washington had the better of the play for the opening nine minutes, before a lucky bounce got the Devils going.
White took a cross-ice pass from Langenbrunner on a rush and his 40-foot shot hit off the leg of Washington defenceman Brian Pothier and past goalie Jose Theodore.
Down 2-1 entering the second period, the Devils dominated with the key move being coach Jacques Lemaire’s decision to put Patrik Elias on a line with Parise and Zajac.
New Jersey’s power play, connecting at 30 per cent over the last five games, tied it at 2-all with Langenbrunner ripping in a shot from the left point.
Parise scored his 10th goal and gave New Jersey the lead for good at 14:40. The goal followed a turnover by Alexander Semin in the Devils’ end.
“It was a pretty easy play,” Zajac said. “There were no bodies in front of me and I just threw it up to him and let him do the rest.”
Parise knew exactly what he wanted to do.
“I scored on him earlier this year in a shootout, so I did the same thing,” Parise said.
Halischuk netted his first NHL goal in the final minute, taking a pass from Niclas Bergfors to cap a 3-on-2 break.
Murphy scored early in the third period after Zajac won a faceoff.
Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said Theodore played poorly.
“The power play goal was a clear shot by Langenbrunner with no screen,” he said. “I know Parise’s was a breakaway, but he made it look easy. The next one was short side over the blocker. Those things Jose has to stop.”
The Capitals, playing for the second straight night, took a 2-0 lead when Fleischmann and Perreault scored 47 seconds apart.
Fleischmann extended his career-high scoring streak to eight games, tallying on a power play at 4:15. Green sent the puck from the left circle to the left point, where Brendan Morrison found Fleischmann for his seventh goal.
It was the first power-play goal against New Jersey in eight games. The Devils had killed 20 consecutive power plays.
Perreault, who has five points since being called up six games ago, scored his second goal after taking another pass from Green.
“We were down 2-0 against them in Washington and won in a shootout,” Brodeur said. “There is no panic, but it’s not a fun way to start a game because one more mistake and the game could be over.”
Notes: Capitals RW Boyd Gordon returned after missing 13 games with a back injury, but he didn’t finish the game after reinjuring his back. … Washington captain Chris Clark played in his 500th NHL game. … Devils rookie Tim Sestito earned his first NHL point on Halischuk’s goal. … It was the Devils’ 1,000 regular-season win since the franchise moved to New Jersey. The team relocated from Colorado for the 1982-83 season. The Devils are 1,000-852-248.