Reuters - Thu, 18 Mar 06:14:00 2010
The New Jersey Devils had plenty to celebrate on St. Patrick's Day after they beat Pittsburgh 5-2 to tie the Penguins for the lead at the top of the NHL's Atlantic Division.
It was New Jersey's sixth win of the season against the defending Stanley Cup champions, sweeping the season series by a lopsided aggregate score of 22-5.
"It's respect. We know if we don't play well, we're not going to succeed against these guys," Devils netminder Martin Brodeur told Reuters.
"We pay attention to every single detail. It's always a measuring stick when you play them."
Wearing retro uniforms with green pants for the first time since the 1991-92 season, the Devils recovered from Chris Kunitz's early goal to take a 4-1 lead into the third period on strikes from Dainius Zubrus, Paul Martin, Patrik Elias and Zach Parise.
Pittsburgh's Ruslan Fedotenko and the Devils' Rob Niedermayer traded goals in the third as New Jersey moved into a tie with Pittsburgh on 87 points in the division with a game in hand.
Defenseman Martin, returning to the ice after missing 59 games due to a fractured left forearm, stole an errant pass at mid-ice, raced in and beat goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to make it 2-1 with 1:42 left in the opening period.
"That was as nervous playing hockey as I've been in a long while. I didn't know what to expect," said Martin, whose goal was his first of the season.
"I just wanted to get through the game, but the opportunity presented itself."
Elias scored an unassisted, short-handed goal three minutes into the second and Parise poked in another from in front of the net seven minutes later to make it 4-1.
Brodeur, a year after setting the NHL's all-time record for wins by a goalie, stopped 24 of 26 shots for his league-leading 39th victory of this season, extending his career record total to 596 wins.