Gomez had his first multi-goal game of the season and added an assist to lead the New Jersey Devils to a 4-3 victory over the Washington Capitals on Friday night.
“They were both replay goals, so you never know what’s going to happen,” Gomez said. “You’ve got your bench telling you one thing, but it’s all up to the people upstairs.
“Sometimes you get a little lucky.”
Sergei Brylin also scored, Patrik Elias had a goal and two assists, and Martin Brodeur made 32 saves for the Atlantic Division-leading Devils, who earned their sixth straight victory over the Capitals. New Jersey is 11-1-1 in the last 13 games against Washington.
“It’s one of those nights where you have to work hard to win,” Devils coach Claude Julien said. “I think our team gave a good effort against a team that wasn’t going to quit.”
Lawrence Nycholat had a goal, his first in the NHL, and added an assist for the Capitals. Brooks Laich had a power-play goal and Alexander Semin scored with 45.6 seconds remaining as Washington dropped its third straight game and has just one win in its last six contests.
Nycholat and Gomez scored first period goals.
Nycholat, recalled from the minors four games ago, got his first NHL goal at 5:25. The defenceman took a pass from Alex Ovechkin and drilled a shot from the left faceoff circle past Brodeur.
“It’s a pretty special thing,” said the 27-year-old playing in only his 13th game. “I’m pretty happy about it.
“It would have been nicer if we won the game.”
Gomez pulled New Jersey even with 1:07 remaining with a shot from the bottom of the right circle that went in – and out of – the net so fast that it had to be confirmed by a video review.
“It’s got a sound when it hits the inside bar,” Gomez said. “I pointed that it was in.
“Going back to the bench I thought to myself I hope that’s in because the guys will ride me if it’s not. It would be embarrassing.”
In the second, Brylin and Gomez scored to give New Jersey a two-goal lead before Laich cut the Devils advantage to 3-2.
Brylin backhanded Brian Rafalski’s rebound past Olie Kolzig for a power-play goal at 6:22. Gomez scored his second goal at 13:31, and it also went to a video review. Brian Gionta took a hard shot and Kolzig made a pad save. The rebound bounced in off Gomez’ leg. That triggered a review that determined Gomez did not deliberately kick the puck in.
Gomez played coy as to how the puck went in.
“I can’t really tell you,” Gomez said. “I was just going to the net and it kind of bounced off me.”
Laich deflected Nycholat’s point shot by Brodeur at 16:50.
Elias, set up perfectly by Gomez, scored at 6:43 of the third to give the Devils a 4-2. Gomez took a slapshot that rebounded off Kolzig’s pads back to Gomez. Instead of shooting again, Gomez spotted Elias in the left circle and fed him a pass for the insurance goal from a sharp angle.
It proved crucial as Semin scored in the closing seconds after Washington pulled Kolzig for an extra attacker. The Capitals pressed for the tying goal in the final seconds but Brodeur fended them off.
“It wasn’t to be,” Kolzig said. “They’re an opportunistic team and they capitalized on some rebounds.
“We played hard and we can’t hang our heads but at the same time, it’s another loss.”
Notes: Devils defenceman Colin White missed a second straight game because of a groin injury . . . The Capitals, hard hit by injury and illness, got some help as defenceman Shaone Morrisonn returned after missing four games because of mononucleosis. The Capitals also called up three players Friday from Hershey (AHL): centre Dave Steckel and defencemen Jamie Hunt and Timo Helbling.