NHL Game Summary - Pittsburgh at New Jersey
(Wednesday, March 17th)
Final Score: New Jersey 6, Pittsburgh 1
East Rutherford, NJ (Sports Network) - Viktor Kozlov scored a goal and added three assists, leading the New Jersey Devils to a 6-1 rout of the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Meadowlands.
Jeff Friesen chipped in two goals and a pair of assists for New Jersey, while Sergei Brylin assisted on three goals. Scott Clemmensen gave Martin Brodeur a night off in the Devil net and made 14 saves for the easy victory.
Clemmensen, making just the third start of his career, nearly notched his second shutout against Pittsburgh, allowing only a power-play goal late in the third period. He blanked the Penguins on 25 shots in his first NHL start on January 20.
Brodeur will try for his 400th career win on Friday against visiting Montreal in the opener of a home-and-home set with the Canadiens. The Devils moved two points ahead of the idle Canadiens for the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. New Jersey is also just one point behind Toronto and Ottawa, who share fourth and fifth in the playoff chase.
John Madden and Paul Martin each notched a goal and an assist for the Devils, while Scott Niedermayer also found the back of the net. The newly-created line of Kozlov, Friesen and Brylin accounted for 11 points.
"It was a pretty good line tonight," said Devils head coach Pat Burns.
Matt Hussey scored the lone goal for the Penguins, who entered the contest 5-0-1 in their previous six games. Pittsburgh was close to being shut out for the eighth time this season and for the third time by New Jersey. The Devils won the season series 5-1-0 and are 12-2-0 in the last 14 meetings.
Sebastien Caron started in net for Pittsburgh and surrendered five goals on 23 shots before being pulled late in the second period. Martin Brochu took over and stopped 18 shots in relief.
The Devils outshot the Penguins 42-15.
Friesen started the rout early, scoring just 1:59 into the contest. Kozlov worked the puck off the left boards and took a shot from the top of the left circle that Caron stopped. Friesen gained control of the rebound and backhanded a shot over the fallen netminder at the right side of the crease.
Niedermayer made it 2-0 just 1:21 later. Madden made a pass from behind the net into the right circle for Niedermayer, who snapped a wrister past a screened Caron on the short side for his 11th goal.
"We were expecting them to come hard and they didn't disappoint that way," said Penguins head coach Eddie Olczyk, who called his timeout after New Jersey's second goal. "They came out on all cylinders and we were just in between. We've got to give them credit for that."
Friesen scored again late in the first on a scramble in front of the crease for his 17th goal to send New Jersey to the first intermission ahead 3-0.
The Devils dominated the opening 20 minutes, outshooting the Penguins 18-4. The second period was more of the same, as New Jersey again limited Pittsburgh to just four shots and scored three times on its 10 shots.
Madden made it 4-0 at 5:34 of the second, knocking home the rebound of a Martin shot.
Martin then scored his fifth of the season at the 7:20 mark, taking a feed from Friesen after Kozlov had won an offensive-zone faceoff and blasting a shot home from the left point.
Caron was then replaced by Brochu in the Pittsburgh net and the Devils needed just 27 seconds to score again, as Kozlov banged in the rebound of a Friesen shot for his 12th goal and first in two games since being acquired from the Florida Panthers.
"My conditioning was a little bit better and I got my confidence back tonight," said Kozlov. "For me, every game is important. The faster I get into game shape, the easier it will be for me and the more I can bring to the team."
The Penguins spoiled Clemmensen's shutout bid, scoring on their 14th shot of the game when Hussey deflected home a Dick Tarnstrom point shot. Hussey, just recalled from the AHL, has two goals in his first two games.
Clemmensen's other start this year came in a 3-1 loss to Washington on February 19...Jay Pandolfo had two assists for New Jersey...The Penguins scored on their lone power-play chance, while the Devils were 0-for-1...New Jersey defenseman Colin White missed the game with a neck injury. The Devils played without three of their top defensemen, as Scott Stevens is still out recovering from post-concussion syndrome and Brian Rafalski is sidelined with a broken leg.
03/17 23:50:07 ET