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Goals coming in bunches for surging Devils

by Eric Marin / New Jersey Devils

Opponents have had little success containing Elias and Parise this season. –
A year ago, the Devils' holiday wish list might have asked for more consistent production on offense.

But with one game remaining before the NHL's two-day Christmas break, Jersey's Team has been putting up numbers sure to bring a smile to the face of any Devils' fan this holiday season.

The goals have been coming in bunches for a squad that finished 27th in total offense with 198 goals in 2007-08. Through 31 games, this year's Devils already have accounted for nearly half that many. They currently rank 11th in the league with 95 tallies and have averaged a ninth-best 3.06 goals per game, up from 2.42.

Zach Parise | Patrik Elias
New Jersey is 7-0-0 since Nov. 15 when scoring four or more times, and the offense hit a high note with eight goals against the rival Rangers on Dec. 12.

At the eye of the scoring storm has been the duo of Devils' leading scorer Zach Parise and Patrik Elias, who trails Parise by just three points.

Parise has collected five goals and 10 assists this month to climb into a tie with Boston's Marc Savard for fourth in the NHL with 40 points (18g-22a). Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin has the league lead with 55 points, and Parise is just three points out of third place held by defending league MVP and Art Ross Trophy winner Alexander Ovechkin.

The fourth-year left wing has tallied points in eight of nine December games, including a pair of four-assist performances.

The Devils (19-9-3, 41 pts) have won 12 of their last 15 games to move three points ahead of Pittsburgh for third place in the Atlantic Division. They trail the division-leading Rangers by five points with five games in hand and will seek their second four-game winning streak this month when they host the East-leading Boston Bruins Tuesday in Newark.

No less impressive has been the play of Elias, who was named Monday as the NHL's Third Star for the period ending Dec. 21.

Elias has points in 10 straight contests and owns the second-longest active points streak behind Boston's Phil Kessel. The veteran has scorched opponents for eight goals and nine assists since beginning the streak on Nov. 29. His 37 points (16g-21a) place him in a six-way tie for the seventh-highest point total in the NHL.

With two goals and two assists versus Ottawa on Dec. 19, Elias tied John MacLean for the most multipoint games in club history (169).

The sniper role is a familiar one for Elias, who potted a club-record 96 points in 2000-01 while also scoring 40 goals to set the current single-season mark for a Devils left wing. He's well on his way to another impact season, and had the first marker Sunday when New Jersey grounded Philadelphia in a 3-2 shootout win.

Jamie Langenbrunner scored in the third round of the shootout to send it into sudden death, and Travis Zajac sealed it in the fifth round. Scott Clemmensen made 27 saves before stopping four of five Flyers attempts in the shootout.

Brian Rolston added his third of the season and second in three games, as the Devils won their second straight meeting with Philadelphia.
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