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Devils and Wild win final preseason games

Tuesday, 09.29.2009 / 11:15 PM / Roundup

By John Kreiser - Columnist

The New Jersey Devils look like they're all ready for the new season.

The Devils completed a 4-0-1 run through the preseason by overpowering the New York Islanders 4-2 on Tuesday night. Zach Parise and Travis Zajac each had a goal and an assist, while Martin Brodeur stopped 19 of 21 shots.

"We were forcing things our last game," Zajac said of Saturday's 1-0 win over Philadelphia. "We weren't supporting each other as well as we normally do and we just got back down to basics, got some shots on net, crashed the net and got some goals."
Parise said the line, which includes Jamie Langenbrunner, also got more aggressive.

''Believe it or not, we're pretty smart guys,'' Parise said. ''We knew that we didn't play well last game and we needed a better effort tonight, especially if we want to be an effective team. That's why we got the goals and more chances."

After a scoreless first period, the Islanders twice took one-goal leads on goals by defensemen Jack Hillen and Mark Streit. But Brian Rolston tied the score with a power-play goal at 14:21, and Zajac beat Dwayne Roloson at 17:21 to give New Jersey its first lead.

Brendan Shanahan added an insurance goal in the third period.

The Isles' prize rookie, John Tavares, earned his third assist in five preseason games when he helped set up Streit's goal. He had his best scoring chance of the preseason when he came in alone on Brodeur six minutes into the game but rang a shot off the right post.

The Islanders finished the preseason with a 2-5-1 record, including back-to-back 4-2 losses to New Jersey

Both teams will open the regular season on Saturday night at home. The Devils will play the Philadelphia Flyers, while the Islanders host the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins.

''We have a few more days to go,'' Brodeur said. ''We'll be ready when the time comes. It's a work in progress.''

Wild 5, Flyers 4 (SO)

The Wild went home happy after Antti Miettinen scored the deciding goal in the fourth round of the shootout at the Wachovia Center, giving Minnesota a win in a game it trailed 2-0 after the first period.

Mikko Koivu and Martin Havlat also scored shootout goals for the Wild, which had lost its previous three games. Danny Briere and Mike Richards had shootout goals for the Flyers.

Havlat, Brent Burns, Cal Clutterbuck, and James Sheppard had regulation goals for the Wild. Richards, Briere, Claude Giroux, and Mika Pyorala scored for the Flyers. Niklas Backstrom had 35 saves for the Wild before stopping Simon Gagne and Jeff Carter in the shootout.

Philadelphia's Ray Emery stopped 10 of 11 shots before being replaced by Johan Backlund late in the second period. He saved 10 of 13.

Sheppard put the Wild ahead 4-3 on a shot that bounced off Philadelphia's Ryan Parent into the net at 15:20, Briere pulled the Flyers even by scoring from in close at 16:56.

"I liked the way the team played tonight," Flyers coach John Stevens said. "I thought we created a lot of chances. I was happy with the effort."

Much is expected of the Flyers this season, and Stevens said his team looks like it's just about ready."

"I liked the way the team played tonight.  I thought we created a lot of chances. I was happy with the effort."
-- Flyers coach John Stevens

"I thought the team has played better and better," he said of the progress made during camp. "Tonight we had a lot of sustained attacks, a lot of pressure. I like the direction we're going."

Koivu, who had two assists, and linemate Andrew Brunette made their first appearances of the preseason after being sidelined with leg injuries. Minnesota right wing Petr Sykora returned after missing three games with an ankle injury.

The Flyers open the regular season at Carolina on Friday. Minnesota opens at Columbus on Saturday.

Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media was used in this report

Quote of the Day

Life's about opportunity and how you respond to that opportunity, and obviously he must have some swagger about him, some confidence about him, because he was solid. He made some good saves. He was 6-foot-3 on every shot, which is a good thing for a goalie. He played well. We got a win.

— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock on rookie goaltender Garret Sparks, who made 24 saves in his first NHL start, a 3-0 win vs. Oilers
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