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Devils forward Zach Parise will be sidelined three months with a knee injury

NEWARK, N.J. - New Jersey Devils left-winger Zach Parise is going to be sidelined three months with a knee injury.

The struggling Devils announced Tuesday evening that Parise underwent exploratory arthroscopic surgery on his right knee to repair a torn meniscus.

"The good news is that the meniscus is 100 per cent intact," Devils president and general manager Lou Lamoriello said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press late Tuesday evening. "They didn't have to do anything to it other than stitch it. It will be a 100 per cent recovery and there will be no risk of anything down the road later and that's the most important thing."

Parise will be a restricted free agent after this season. Lamoriello noted the injury will not influence the team's thinking about re-signing him.

The surgery came with the Devils off to their worst start in 27 years in New Jersey at 3-9-1. The team has made the playoffs the past 13 seasons.

"Adversity is part of life," Lamoriello said. "As I said earlier, it's how you handle it and what you do with it. Right now, we just have to do what we are capable of doing. The players who are here have to step up and make the best of the opportunities they are going to get right now."

The teams' seven points is the lowest in the NHL and one has to wonder how long Lamoriello is going to continue with rookie coach John MacLean.

"Quite frankly we have to come together a little more and overcome what we are going through," Lamoriello said. "We have been working hard and we just have to work a little harder and work a little smarter."

Parise hurt the knee skating in August and has been bothered by the injury all season. He had three goals and three assists in 12 games.

The Devils sent Parise home from Los Angeles after a game on Saturday to have his knee examined.

Parise has been the focal point of the Devils' offence the past four seasons with 31, 32, 45 and 38 goals.

In the gold medal game against Canada in the Olympics, the U.S. Olympian scored the game-tying goal with 24 seconds left in regulation. Canada won the gold on a goal by Sidney Crosby in overtime.

The announcement is the latest woe to befall the Devils this season.

Very little has gone right for New Jersey since it re-signed high-scoring left winger Ilya Kovalchuk to a 17-year, US$102 million contract in the off-season.

The NHL ruled the deal circumvented its salary cap and it eventually fined the team $3 million and took away two high draft picks over the next four years, including a first-rounder. The Devils can pick which season they give up the choice.

The deal, which was later reworked and approved at $100 million over 15 years, forced the Devils to play a couple of games with less than 20 players on the bench because having more would have put them over the cap.

Since the season opener, New Jersey has struggled scoring and been beset by injuries to veteran forward Brian Rolston (sports hernia), young defencemen Mark Fraser and Matt Corrente (both with broken hands) and rookie centre Jacob Josefson (detached ligament in the right hand.)

The Devils will finish a road trip on Wednesday with a game at Chicago. Lamoriello said the team will use the same lineup as it did in a 3-0 loss to Vancouver on Monday.

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