newjerseydevils.com – It was a dizzying night of ups and downs for the Devils on Wednesday: two goals from Zach Parise, a blown two-goal lead, an overtime winner from Scott Gomez and, in the end, another playoff victory for Martin Brodeur.
The goal from Gomez at 12:54 of overtime wrapped up a 4-3 win for the Devils in game four, and brings them back to the Meadowlands all even at two games apiece in their opening-round series with the Lightning.
Zach Parise’s fifth and sixth goal of this postseason tied a Devils’ franchise record for goals in a playoff series, and his line with Jamie Langenbrunner and Travis Zajac continued to play the vital role for New Jersey that it has all series long.
Parise recorded a career-high 31 goals in the regular season, and Langenbrunner has seen his share of playoff battles, including the Devils’ winning Stanley Cup run in 2003.
But it’s almost easy to forget that Zajac, the final one-third of that unit, is just a rookie. Perhaps that alone speaks volumes for the way he has performed thus far in the series.
The freshman forward assisted on both of Parise’s goals in game four, quietly moving within one of the Devils’ rookie record for assists in a playoff series. He now has three assists in his first four postseason games, one behind Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin for the rookie lead.
Jon Morris set the Devils' rookie mark for assists with four in the 1990-91 Patrick Division Semifinals.
Zajac’s overall plus-4 rating is currently tops among first-year players, and he has yet to finish a playoff game with a minus.
In the first period last night, Zajac broke down the right wing after controlling a neutral zone pass from Paul Martin. When Martin joined the rush, Zajac got the puck back to him at the left circle, and Martin found an open Parise for a cross-ice pass and a tap-in goal at 14:20.
Zajac registered his second assist at 9:42 of the second frame, when Parise deflected an Andy Greene point shot past Tampa goaltender Johan Holmqvist.
New Jersey pelted Holmqvist with 37 shots in the contest, while Brodeur stopped 30 of 33 to move closer to a postseason milestone of his own.
The Devils’ goaltender is now just one playoff win shy of Grant Fuhr’s mark of 92, second on the all-time list. Patrick Roy holds the record with 151.
The Devils return to the Continental Airlines Arena to play game five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal on Friday, April 20 at 7:00 p.m. (FSN NY, 92.3 Free FM).
Tickets for individual playoff games are available at the arena box office, or by visiting ticketmaster.com.