For the New Jersey Devils, it didn't get much worse than losing their first two games of the season on home ice to their most hated rivals, the Flyers and Rangers.
Heading out on the road seems to have cured all that ailed them, however.
Jamie Langenbrunner's shootout goal Monday night at the Verizon Center capped the Devils' comeback from a 2-0 deficit to beat the Washington Capitals 3-2 and sweep a three-game swing that started out with a pair of wins in Florida over the Lightning and Panthers.
"Especially coming back from the two-goal deficit … I thought we started to play better in the second period," Devils coach Jacques Lemaire said. "We gave them the puck too much. We didn't control it. We didn't skate with it. We were playing a little too passive. And the second period, the guys started to put it together, and then it was a much better game from our part."
Martin Brodeur recovered from a shaky start to stop 27 shots, as well as two of the Capitals' three shootout attempts. After Jose Theodore got a piece of Langenbrunner's drive but couldn't keep it out of the net, Brodeur stretched out and made a pad save on Alex Ovechkin's backhander to secure the victory.
David Clarkson forced overtime with 6:26 remaining when he took a Nicklas Bergfors feed in front and slipped the puck past Theodore. The goal capped a hard-working shift by the line centered by Dainius Zubrus, as it cycled the puck in the Washington zone before Bergfors made a precision pass through to Clarkson.
"The shift's kind of a blur. I was so tired by the time the puck went in the net I didn't know how long the shift was," Clarkson said. "It was a great shift for us. I thought we contained them low and ended up benefitting from it. Hard work pays off and we put one in the back of the net."
Mike Green and Mike Knuble had first-period goals to stake the Capitals to a 2-0 lead, but they ended up losing their fourth consecutive one-goal game (0-2-2) after starting the season with a pair of victories. Theodore turned aside 31 shots.
"It's not a frustration. It's more like an annoyance," Knuble said of the skid. "We're doing all the things right, every game we've lost."
Brian Rolston began the Devils' comeback midway through the second, taking a cross-ice feed from Rob Niedermayer and wristing a shot past Theodore.
"It's nice when you go out and your first couple of guys scores all the time (in the shootout). For a goalie, it's great. You make a save and the next thing you know, you're in good position to win the hockey game." -- Martin Brodeur
The first period didn't feature a ton of great scoring chances for either side, but the Capitals made the most of theirs. Green got them going offensively at 9:06 when he used Knuble as a screen and wristed a shot over Brodeur's glove.
Knuble picked up an assist on the play and then added a goal of his own with 5:44 left in the period when Brodeur got a stick on his drive but watched helplessly as the puck sailed into the net.
At that point Brodeur had given up two goals on the first five shots he faced, but Washington wouldn't beat him again until Nicklas Backstrom scored to open the shootout. Zach Parise quickly answered for New Jersey, and after Brodeur followed with a save on Alexander Semin, Langenbrunner netted the decisive goal.
"It's nice when you go out and your first couple of guys scores all the time (in the shootout). For a goalie, it's great," Brodeur said. "You make a save and the next thing you know, you're in good position to win the hockey game."
-- Brian Hunter, NHL.com
Material from wire services and team broadcast media was used in this report.
1 - 0 WSH
2 - 0 WSH
2 - 1 WSH