NEWARK, N.J. - The New Jersey Devils have their sights set on the top of the Eastern Conference and the two teams on the other side of the river.
Lately, knocking off their neighbours has been the toughest task of all. That is until they finally figured out the New York Islanders on Saturday.
Zach Parise's 25th goal snapped a third-period tie and gave the Devils their first win of the season against the Islanders, a 4-2 victory that was settled during a dominant final 20 minutes.
New Jersey had lost all five meetings this season (0-4-1) and six straight dating to last season. Add in an 0-3-2 mark against the Rangers, and the Devils were winless in 10 versus their biggest rivals.
"Mentally, for us to know we can beat them is great," said Parise, who scored for the fifth straight game. "Now we have to try to beat the Rangers."
Brian Gionta stretched the lead to two goals 2:13 after Parise scored for the Devils, who broke the Islanders' season-best, six-game winning streak.
The Devils won their fourth in a row and for the sixth time in seven games after a stretch in which they lost five of six at home.
"We just got in a funk there for a little while," Gionta said. "We gave up some points we didn't want to in that home stretch, but we finished pretty strong."
Martin Brodeur made 19 saves, while starting for the 21st straight time, and earned his NHL-leading 34th win. Patrik Elias and John Madden scored in the first period for New Jersey, which entered Saturday one point out of first place in the East.
Josef Vasicek and Ruslan Fedotenko had goals for the Islanders, who had won six in a row after a seven-game losing streak (0-6-1). New York missed a chance to move back into a playoff spot.
"We definitely made some positive strides, but we're still not where we want to be," goalie Rick DiPietro said. "Today was a big game, but we weren't able to get the job done."
Parise scored the winner after taking a banked pass off the boards and speeding past defenceman Aaron Johnson. He beat DiPietro with a shot 2:30 into the third. Gionta also took advantage of Johnson in front and made it 4-2 at 4:43.
"There were some indecisions on my part that ended up hurting us," Johnson said. "We played well the first 40 minutes, and two mistakes on my part just hurt the game."
DiPietro stopped 38 shots - 18 in the third period - and fell to 4-1 against the Devils this season.
Fedotenko got the Islanders even 1:53 into the second period when he got free of defenceman Mike Mottau and snapped a shot from the right circle that beat Brodeur inside the near post to make it 2-all. Fedotenko has six of his 14 goals in the past nine games.
The Devils quickly erased an early deficit and led 2-1 after the first period, in which they went 1-for-3 on the power play.
After Vasicek staked the Islanders to a 1-0 lead, Elias tied it with a power-play goal 2:21 later.
Elias took a pass along the blue line from defenceman Johnny Oduya and fired a slap shot that beat DiPietro for his 17th goal.
Madden's 17th - third short-handed - pushed New Jersey ahead with 8:24 left in the period. Madden attempted a pass left to Jay Pandolfo, but defenceman Marc-Andre Bergeron redirected it into the New York net to make it 2-1.
Vasicek gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead 7:55 in when he deflected Andy Hilbert's shot from the left-wing boards past Brodeur.
The Islanders had a prime chance to tie it with about 90 seconds left in the first period when Oduya fell down at the New York blue line and Miroslav Satan raced the other way on a breakaway. Brodeur poked the puck away.
New York also couldn't convert on a 5-on-3 advantage in the second period.
"The effort was there but I don't think we had enough fight in us," captain Bill Guerin said. "We're by no means in any position to take a night off and just start dropping games."
Notes: Islanders C Mike Sillinger will undergo season-ending hip surgery. ... Devils D Colin White returned after a one-game absence (upper body soreness). ... Brodeur earned an assist on Parise's goal. ... New York D Bruno Gervais returned after missing six games with an oblique injury. ... Madden has scored 16 NHL short-handed goals. ... New York has allowed a league-worst 11 short-handed goals.