WASHINGTON – The New Jersey Devils’ patience on offence was rewarded – with a third-period comeback and a dominating performance in a shootout.
Zach Parise scored the lone shootout goal and Martin Brodeur made three saves in the tiebreaker, leading the Devils to a 4-3 victory over the Washington Capitals on Saturday night.
Parise, the first Devils shooter in the extra session, lifted a backhander past Brent Johnson. Brodeur blocked Michael Nylander’s attempt in front, used his stick to stop Alexander Semin and foiled Alex Ovechkin’s wrist shot on the Capitals’ final attempt.
In the third period, Parise scored and set up another goal to give New Jersey a 3-2 lead after the Devils had been repeatedly thwarted by Johnson, who finished with 34 saves.
“It’s a great sign,” said New Jersey’s Patrik Elias, who became the franchise’s career leader in assists with his first of two on the night. “It’s a good sign we can score goals when we have to. A team like that, you cannot give them too many opportunities.”
Semin had two goals for Washington, which lost for the first time in four games since dropping its season opener Oct. 10 in Atlanta. Mike Green also scored.
Petr Vrana scored in his NHL debut for the Devils, who finished 3-1 on a four-game road trip. Elias picked up his 365th assist on the goal, moving ahead of Scott Niedermayer and into the top spot on New Jersey’s list.
“I think it’s great,” Elias said. “It means I’m doing something right. It’s amazing I’m passing a defenceman, but Scotty is a great player. … It’s a great milestone, but hopefully I can add a few more.”
Parise and Andy Greene scored third-period goals for the Devils, who weren’t frustrated after watching Johnson sweep pucks away and gobble up shots without giving up rebound chances.
“We did a good job of (killing penalties) in the second period and that gave us some momentum,” New Jersey’s Jamie Langenbrunner said. “We were doing a lot of good things and we talked a lot out there about the good things we were doing.”
As soon as the Devils controlled the puck and shut down the middle of the ice, inhibiting the Capitals’ passing attack, the game swung in New Jersey’s favour.
“They’re a very good defensive team and they make it tough on us to make plays in the neutral zone,” Green said. “Once we get in their zone, they’re always in your face and they make it very hard for you to make passes and plays where we kind of thrive off moving the pick.”
Washington converted a two-man advantage midway through the second period to take a 2-1 lead. Green sneaked down the inside edge of the left circle to bat in a nice drop pass from Brooks Laich at 12:18.
Parise was in the middle of New Jersey’s third-period rally. With Chris Clark off for tripping, he tied it with 9:26 remaining on a shot at the right post. Just 1:08 later, he set up Greene’s goal from the left point with a long centring pass from behind the net.
Semin was credited with his team-leading sixth goal with 5:11 left when his right-side drive caromed off the chest of defenceman Mike Mottau’s chest and past Brodeur.
Notes: New Jersey scratched RW Brian Rolston (ankle), and the Capitals played without D Tom Poti (groin), C Viktor Kozlov (leg) and RW Donald Brashear (hand). … Washington lost for the first time in three home games. … Hall of Famer Ray Bourque was in attendance to watch the season debut of his son, Capitals LW Chris Bourque. After the game, the younger Bourque was reassigned to AHL Hershey.