EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - Patrik Elias returned from the Olympics with bruised ribs and a scoring slump.
He broke out Wednesday night with three goals and two assists to lead the New Jersey Devils to a 6-4 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Elias had only three goals and six assists in the previous 13 games.
"You obviously want to do well," he said. "You want to score and you want to help the team. The main thing is to stay positive. It's hard. It's not easy."
Scott Gomez added a goal and three assists, two on goals by Elias.
"Patty took over right from the get-go," Gomez said. "We need that. That's his job. He's a goal scorer. He's had tons of chances in recent games. When he got that first one, you could tell he was on a roll."
Zach Parise and Brian Rafalski also scored and Martin Brodeur made 25 saves as New Jersey (40-27-9) reached 40 wins for the ninth straight season. The Devils joined Montreal and Boston as the only franchises to accomplish the feat.
The Devils are sixth in the Eastern Conference with 89 points and trail fifth-place Philadelphia by four points.
Andy Hilbert had two goals for the Penguins, and Sidney Crosby and Jani Rita also scored.
The Devils scored three consecutive goals in the second period to gain the upper hand.
With the game tied at 2, Parise put New Jersey ahead to stay at 2:55. His pass from the left wing intended for Brian Gionta glanced off Penguins defenseman Eric Cairns and deflected past Marc-Andre Fleury. Gionta got an assist, extending his scoring streak to nine games.
Gomez beat Fleury with a shot over the glove for a power-play goal at 8:11 that gave the Devils a 4-2 lead.
Elias completed his seventh career hat trick at 12:45 as the Devils took a three-goal lead.
Hilbert scored his second, a power-play tally with 2:38 remaining, to cut New Jersey's lead to 5-3. The Devils extended it on Rafalski's power-play goal at 5:15 of the third.
Rita finished the scoring at 8:07.
Crosby scored his 35th on the first shot of the game, just 27 seconds after the opening faceoff.
"It was good that we were able to come out strong," Fleury said. "Getting that first goal was big but there was still a lot of time to be played, and the Devils kept coming at the net."
Elias followed with a power-play goal at 3:18 and a four-on-four score at 7:07.
Hilbert pulled the Penguins even with a power-play goal with 47 seconds remaining in the period.
Notes: The Devils swept the home-and-home series. They won 3-2 in overtime at Pittsburgh on Sunday. The season series wrapped up 4-4. ... Elias is the Devils' career leader in hat tricks. John MacLean had six. ... The Devils recalled G Frank Doyle from Albany of the AHL. He replaced Scott Clemmensen, who was ill, as Brodeur's backup. ... The Penguins started a four-game road trip that continues to Florida, Tampa Bay and Philadelphia. ... The Devils were 3-for-7 on the power play.
|Sidney Crosby (35) ASST: Colby Armstrong (18), Ryan Whitney (27)|
1 - 0 PIT
|PPG - Patrik Elias (11) ASST: Scott Gomez (43), Jamie Langenbrunner (31)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Patrik Elias (12) ASST: Scott Gomez (44), Brian Rafalski (36)|
2 - 1 NJD
|Andy Hilbert (9) ASST: Konstantin Koltsov (5), Brooks Orpik (5)|
2 - 2 Tie
|Zach Parise (12) ASST: Scott Gomez (45), Brian Gionta (34)|
3 - 2 NJD
|PPG - Scott Gomez (28) ASST: Patrik Elias (21), Brian Rafalski (37)|
4 - 2 NJD
|Patrik Elias (13) ASST: Sergei Brylin (22), Martin Brodeur (3)|
5 - 2 NJD
|PPG - Andy Hilbert (10) ASST: Brooks Orpik (6), Sidney Crosby (52)|
5 - 3 NJD
|PPG - Brian Rafalski (6) ASST: Patrik Elias (22), Jamie Langenbrunner (32)|
6 - 3 NJD
|Jani Rita (6) ASST: Michel Ouellet (16), Tomas Surovy (12)|
6 - 4 NJD
|Sergei Gonchar Hooking against John Madden|
|Konstantin Koltsov Interference against Scott Gomez|
|Erik Rasmussen Boarding against Colby Armstrong|
|Tomas Surovy Tripping against Colin White|
|Jamie Langenbrunner Tripping against Andy Hilbert|
|Colby Armstrong Hooking|
|Colin White Hi-sticking against Ryan Malone|
|Zach Parise Holding against Konstantin Koltsov|
|Jamie Langenbrunner Hooking against Konstantin Koltsov|
|Ryan Whitney Hooking|
|Josef Melichar Delaying Game-Puck over glass|
|Erik Rasmussen Interference against Colby Armstrong|
|Sidney Crosby Hooking against John Madden|
|Sidney Crosby Unsportsmanlike conduct|