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Third periods proving pivotal for Devils

by Eric Marin / New Jersey Devils
Zubrus' second goal of the season was also his second game-winner. Watch now

It's Halloween, but this is no trick: the Devils are getting their wins by producing clutch goals in the third period.

With Thursday’s 2-1 triumph in Boston, they improved to 6-0 on the road and crept to within six points of first-place Pittsburgh in the Atlantic Division.

It was Dainius Zubrus’ tally with 1:26 left in regulation that broke a 1-1 tie to lead the Devils (7-4-0) past the slumping Bruins. Yann Danis made 31 saves in his Devils debut to record his 14th career victory.

The Devils matched Colorado for the most road victories and, with a win in Tampa on Saturday, would tie Toronto (1940-41), Philadelphia (1985-86) and Detroit (2005-06) for the second longest road winning streak ever to open a season (7). Buffalo’s 10-0 start in 2006-07 stands as the all-time record.

By now, it's a safe bet that a Devils win will feature a pivotal play in the third. The Zubrus tie-breaker was New Jersey’s sixth third-period goal this season that either tied a game or gave the Devils a lead. Of those six, four turned out to be game-winners.

In the Devils’ seven wins, they have dominated the third-period scoring by a count of 10-4. It helps that they keep nearly every game close: New Jersey has been tied or separated by one goal after two periods in all but two of their games, so far.

Though they have only outscored opponents, 13-11, in the third, overall, seven of those goals against were grouped into three losses (Phi., Oct. 3; Atl., Oct. 16; Buf., Oct. 28).

Oct. 8 @ TB: Travis Zajac’s goal with one second left in regulation ties the contest at 3-3. The Devils get it to a shootout, before Zach Parise and Jamie Langenbrunner score and Martin Brodeur denies Steve Stamkos and Alex Tanguay. Devils beat the Lightning, 4-3.

Oct. 10 @ FLA: David Clarkson’s power-play goal snaps a 2-2 tie with 3:35 left in regulation. Devils protect the one-goal lead and hold on for a 3-2 victory over the Panthers.

Oct. 12 @ WSH: The Devils fall behind, 2-0, in the first period before Brian Rolston answers in the second. Clarkson notches his second big goal in as many games when he ties it at 2 with 6:26 left in regulation. Parise and Langenbrunner score in the shootout and Brodeur stops Alex Semin and Alex Ovechkin. Devils beat the Caps, 3-2.

Oct. 17 vs. CAR: Langenbrunner breaks a scoreless tie 26 seconds into the third period and Parise adds an empty-netter. Brodeur makes 26 saves for career shutout No. 102 to move within one of tying Terry Sawchuk’s all-time record. Devils edge the Hurricanes, 2-0, for their first home win of the season.

Oct. 22 @ NYR: After the Devils blow a 2-0 lead, Zubrus breaks a 2-2 tie 7:51 into the third period. Parise adds an empty-netter with 41 seconds left to seal it. Brodeur needs 29 saves to beat Henrik Lundqvist in regulation for the first time in a regular-season game at Madison Square Garden. Devils defeat the Rangers, 4-2. 

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