NEWARK, N.J. -- Trailing by a pair of goals barely five minutes into the game, New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur started to wonder if his team was drifting off, content with winning seven in a row and unwilling to care if the streak ran to eight.
Then defenseman Colin White's snap shot ricocheted off Washington defenseman Brian Pothier and went into the net before the first period was even 10 minutes old. There was life, hope and a feeling of, "Why can't we win eight straight?"
Four goals later, the Devils could start thinking about No. 9.
New Jersey scored five unanswered goals, including three in the second period, to take over first place in the Eastern Conference from the Capitals with a 5-2 victory at Prudential Center. It was the 1,000th win for the franchise since moving to New Jersey for the 1982-83 season.
After White's goal in the first, Jamie Langenbrunner, Zach Parise and Matt Halischuk scored in the second period before Cory Murphy gave the Devils their three-goal cushion just 3:15 into the third. Brodeur made 27 saves for his 12th win of the season.
The Devils will try to extend their winning streak to nine games in Philadelphia on Monday, when they'll also try to tie an NHL record for consecutive road wins to start a season with 10.
"Getting back in the game right away, that was a big help for the psyche of the team," Brodeur said. "When you're rolling and playing well with that streak going, sometimes you can think, 'Well, we had a good run.' (White's) goal gave us that life that we needed to come back and play really well. That kind of showed what we're all about to a certain extent. We feel when we're able to stay in games we'll be successful."
By coach Jacques Lemaire's count, the Devils turned the puck over 10 times in the first period.
"I know at a time we started to turn the puck over in the first period, but getting a goal or two goals against will make you do that," Lemaire said. "We know how Washington is, they are good with the puck and they can make plays, so if you turn the puck over they can capitalize on it."
The Capitals got goals from Tomas Fleischmann, his seventh in nine games, and Mathieu Perreault just 47 seconds apart. Fleischmann's goal was on a power play after Halischuk was called for tripping Alexander Semin.
It turned out to be the Devils' only penalty in the game, but Lemaire thought Semin should have gotten whistled for diving instead. He yelled at the officials from the bench.
"Maybe the referee was not in good position to see it, but it was one hand and he tried to get the puck and it's always easier after, but you could see that (Semin) just let himself go," Lemaire said. "He didn't put any effort to stay on his feet and keep going."
Brodeur appeared to be screened by White on Perreault's goal, but nevertheless the Devils were down a pair and were not playing well.
"That's a good transition team and we were allowing them to come at us," Parise said.
Brodeur, though, slowed things down by freezing the puck a few times and it seemed to work. It calmed the Devils down and then they got the goal from White at the 9:47 mark.
"You've seen games like that when it gets to 2-0 and all of a sudden it's 3-0," Parise said. "For us to be able to respond like that and get a big goal from Whitey, that lifts the bench a lot. I think then we started to play a little bit better after that."
Mike Green went off for tripping Travis Zajac 5:25 into the second period and 19 seconds later Langenbrunner ripped a one-timer past Capitals goalie Jose Theodore to tie the game. Theodore, who made only 18 saves, was not screened on the play.
"Those things," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said, "Jose's got to stop."
Roughly nine minutes later, Zajac intercepted Alexander Semin's lazy in-zone pass and found Parise up the ice for a breakaway. Parise was coming on for a change and Capitals defensemen Green and Shaone Morrisonn were pinching too high.
Parise put a few moves on Theodore and beat him with the forehand to make it 3-2.
Brodeur kept it that way with a marvelous save on Chris Clark at the doorstep with his left skate with 1:41 to play in the period. Clark was trying to put back a rebound off of Perreault's backhand attempt that Brodeur kicked away.
"I turned around and the guy (Clark) was just walking right in," Brodeur said. "Desperately I kind of extended my leg, it hit my skate and hit off the post and it was able to stay there so I could freeze it. I guess it was 3-2 at that time and we scored right away to make it 4-2."
Halischuk made it 4-2 with his first NHL goal, scoring off the rush at 19:05 after receiving a pretty cross-ice pass from Niclas Bergfors. He roofed a shot that clanged off the back crossbar. Tim Sestito got his first career assist and point on that goal.
"I was trying to go high," Halischuk said. "He was coming across so I was trying to get it off quick. Luckily it went in."
Fortunately it also gave the Devils some breathing room going into the third. Murphy extended the lead to 5-2 early in the third, putting the Capitals down by three goals for the first time all season.
"We want to play the best we can and we want to play 60 minutes," Lemaire said. "They come to play and I think they're having fun now. We have our ups and downs in games but they always feel they can come back and we're doing it."