EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP)—With Scott Gomez out with an injury and Patrik Elias in a slump, the New Jersey Devils are getting their scoring from a line consisting of a rookie, a second-year pro and streaky veteran.
Jamie Langenbrunner scored twice and set up another, Zach Parise had a goal and two assists, including a spectacular between the legs setup, and rookie Travis Zajac had three assists to lead the Devils to a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Friday night.
“It’s hard not to like the way they are playing,” goaltender Martin Brodeur said after the Devils avenged an 8-1 loss to the Senators. “They are the ones providing our offense now.”
Brodeur, who gave up six goals in 34 minutes in the loss in Ottawa, came within 14-plus minutes of recording his 84th career shutout before the Senators got third-period goals from Chris Neil and Daniel Alfredsson. Brodeur finished with 15 saves.
The line of Zajac centering for Parise and Langenbrunner was spectacular all night. Not only did they account for the Devils’ goals, Senators goaltender Ray Emery had to come up with at least three other outstanding stops on a night he faced 23 shots.
“Each game we’re getting more confidence with each other,” Zajac said. “It’s from talking on and off the ice and getting comfortable with each other. It’s been good for us so far.”
The win was the Devils’ seventh in 10 games and their fourth straight at home, where they are 8-1-1. Ottawa, which had the best record in the Eastern Conference last season, is 2-7-1 in its last 10 games, 7-11-1 overall and last in the Northeast Division.
“It’s disappointing to lose the way we have,” Emery said after the Senators fell to 1-9 in one-goal games. “It’s that much more incentive to turn it around, having people count you out. It burns you to have people count you as the underdog.”
Parise made a great touch pass to set up Langenbrunner’s first goal just 2:29 after the opening faceoff. With his back to Emery, Parise tipped a Zajac pass between his legs to a wide-open Langenbrunner for his sixth goal.
“I saw him coming down to the net a little bit,” Parise said with a smile. “It was lucky that was for sure. It ended up working out perfect.”
Langenbrunner said it wasn’t luck.
“It was unbelievable,” Langenbrunner said. “He’s shown what a good player he can be here the last year.”
Parise also had the primary assist on the next goal. He took a pass from Zajac in the left corner on a power play and sent the puck across the crease. Emery got his stick on the puck, but it rolled to Langenbrunner, who directed it into the open net with less than a minute left in the period.
“I’ve always been a little streaky, and now we’re on an upstreak,” said Langenbrunner, who is now in his 10th season.
Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson handed the Devils their third goal 6:56 into the second period. With no one near him, he failed to get the puck out of the Ottawa zone. Langenbrunner got the puck, sent a cross-ice pass to Zajac, who found Parise cutting to the net for a backhand tally.
Neil scored for Ottawa at 5:34 of the final period, deflecting a point shot by Andrej Meszaros for his sixth goal. Alfredsson made up for his earlier blunder by ripping an Antoine Vermette pass by Brodeur with 8:31 to play in regulation.
“We’re going through a tough spell. Even on nights we play well, we don’t get bounces, and things don’t go our way,” said Senators center Jason Spezza, who hit two goalposts. “It’s definitely frustrating, because we know we’re a better hockey team than our record indicates.”
Ottawa is 1-8-0 when its opponent scores first. … Gomez missed his sixth straight game and seventh in eight. … New Jersey D David Hale made his season debut. He had been sidelined with an eye injury. … Ottawa’s Brian McGrattan got the best of Devils tough-guy Cam Janssen in a long first-period fight.