newjerseydevils.com – Pay too close attention to how well Martin Brodeur's goaltending helped to close out the Lightning, and you might overlook the fact that the Devils appear to have caught the scoring bug.
Sure, Brodeur capped New Jersey’s Eastern Conference Quarterfinal with three straight wins and a shutout, but with the book now closed on the NHL’s first round, the Devils are turning heads with their offense.
They look to continue that trend when their second round match-up with the Ottawa Senators opens at the Continental Airlines Arena on Thursday night (7 p.m., FSN NY, WFAN 660).
Tickets for the Eastern Conference Semifinals are available by visiting the arena box office, by calling Ticketmaster charge-by-phone, or by logging on to ticketmaster.com.
After six games of going toe-to-toe with one of the league’s most electrifying offenses in the Lightning, the Devils finished with the best postseason power play on home ice (30.8%), and tied Ottawa for the second-best overall (25%).
Scott Gomez leads the league with nine postseason points, having scored the overtime winner in a critical game four. He burned the Lightning for three multi-point games, including three assists in game one, and a goal and two assists in game five.
So far, Gomez is well ahead of his playoff production of a year ago, when he had nine points after two rounds. He tallied two goals and four assists against the Rangers in the 2006 Quarterfinals, adding three goals in the Semifinals against Carolina.
Zach Parise’s breakout series vaulted him to the top of the league’s scoring leaders, as the sophomore struck for six goals versus Tampa. Parise hasn’t missed a beat since recording a career-high 31 goals in the regular season, scoring in each of the first four contests against Tampa Bay, including the winning goal in game one.
Brian Gionta scored twice in the series clincher, including the game winner, and finished the opening round with five goals that tied him with Vincent Lecavalier for second overall.
When the NHL’s first round ended last night in Vancouver, the Devils had not only Gomez atop the scoring leaders, but also Brian Rafalski (2g-5a) and Patrik Elias (1g-6a) tied for third overall with seven points each, and Parise and Gionta (5g, 1a) tied for fourth overall with six points apiece.
Elias is tied for the league lead in power-play assists (3), while Rafalski is tied with Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom for the lead in power-play points by a defenseman (5), and trails only Lidstrom for the overall points lead among blueliners.