The New Jersey Devils and Chicago Blackhawks are getting stellar goaltending just when they need it most.
Losing Martin Brodeur to a biceps injury for several months could have ruined New Jersey's season before it really had a chance to get going. Scott Clemmensen has surpassed Kevin Weekes as the Devils' new No. 1 guy and is making the most of his chance to play.
"I saw a lot of guys I played against in the American Hockey League get the chance," said Clemmensen, who made 26 saves in New Jersey's 4-1 home win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night. "Comparing myself to them, I always knew I could do the same, if I was given the opportunity.
"I waited a long time for this, but that's why you work on your game in case something like this happens."
While the situation isn't quite the same in the Windy City, Cristobal Huet is making the Blackhawks' decision to sign him during the summer look like a great move.
Paired in a goalie tandem with Nikolai Khabibulin, Huet has emerged while his sidekick has been sidelined by an injury, too. Khabibulin has missed six games, and Huet has found his groove. He made 23 saves to earn his first shutout for Chicago as the host Blackhawks beat the Ottawa Senators 2-0 on Wednesday night.
"He had a spectacular night, some significant, high-quality saves and a couple of them on the penalty kill," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said.
In other NHL games Wednesday, it was: Buffalo 4, Tampa Bay 2; Washington 3, Boston 1; the New York Rangers 3, Atlanta 2 in overtime; Detroit 4, Calgary 3 in overtime; Phoenix 5, Dallas 3; and Anaheim 4, St. Louis 2.
In Chicago, Huet posted his first NHL shutout since March 29, against Florida when he was with Washington, and the 18th of his career. He signed a four-year, $22.5 million deal with Chicago as a free agent.
"Nothing special," he said of his latest effort. "I was able to see the puck and it was just being there at the right time, I guess. ... You feel good about yourself and you feel good when it is a tight game like that."
Patrick Kane provided the offense for Huet with a power-play goal 5:17 in, and Troy Brouwer sealed the Blackhawks' win with an empty-netter.
"You can tell he's definitely getting more confident," Kane said of Huet. "It's good to see him get a shutout."
In Newark, N.J., Travis Zajac, Zach Parise, Dainius Zubrus and Patrik Elias provided the scoring for the Devils, who won for the eighth time in nine games. They avenged the lone loss in that span, a 4-1 defeat in Pittsburgh on Nov. 29.
Matt Cooke scored for Pittsburgh, ending Clemmensen's shutout bid with 3:58 remaining. The Penguins' losing streak reached three as they were beaten in regulation in New Jersey for the first time in seven games (5-1-1).
Clemmensen, 7-1 in his last eight starts, spent several seasons as Brodeur's seldom-used backup. He moved on to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a brief stint before returning to New Jersey. Now, at 31, he realizes this could be his last opportunity to make his mark in the NHL.
"I don't know how many more chances I'm going to get," Clemmensen said. "This is mine right here, and I'm going to try and make the most of it."
At Washington, Brent Johnson shut down the Eastern Conference's top offense, and Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Alexandre Giroux scored.
Boston, which has the most goals and the best record in the East, had won five straight and 14 of 16.
The Southeast Division-leading Capitals improved to 11-1-1 at home.
At Buffalo, N.Y., Thomas Vanek scored twice, including his NHL-leading 22nd goal, to help send the Lightning to a ninth straight loss.
Jason Pominville had a goal and two assists, and Drew Stafford also scored for Buffalo (14-11-3).
Martin St. Louis and Mark Recchi scored for Tampa Bay (6-14-8), which blew a 2-0 first-period lead. The Lightning, who have an NHL-low 20 points, dropped to 0-7-2 during their skid.
At Atlanta, Scott Gomez scored 15 seconds into overtime and the New York Rangers snapped a two-game losing streak. The Thrashers have lost five straight at home and have just two victories in 11 games.
Colton Orr gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead with his first goal in 83 games. Atlanta rookie Joey Crabb tied it with his first NHL goal.
At Detroit, Nicklas Lidstrom scored 3:50 into overtime to complete the Red Wings' comeback from a two-goal deficit.
Brian Rafalski had a goal and an assist, and Valtteri Filppula and Henrik Zetterberg also scored for Detroit.
David Moss posted a goal and an assist, and Craig Conroy and Daymond Langkow each chipped in a goal for Calgary.
At Dallas, Martin Hanzal scored twice, including the third-period tiebreaking goal, for visiting Phoenix.
Olli Jokinen also notched two goals for the Coyotes after being activated off the injured list. Jokinen had missed six games due to a shoulder injury.
Steven Reinprecht added an empty-netter with 23.7 seconds left.
Trevor Daley, and rookies Fabian Brunnstrom and James Neal scored for Dallas.
At Anaheim, Calif., Brendan Morrison scored the go-ahead goal during a scramble in front of the net with 2:37 remaining for the Ducks. Chris Kunitz added an empty-net goal, his second score of the night.
Brad Boyes had drawn St. Louis even at 2 on his power-play goal with 7:06 remaining.
Jean-Sebastien Giguere improved to 9-1-2 against the Blues.
St. Louis goalie Manny Legace left after being kneed in the head late in the first period, and Chris Mason replaced him.