EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) -The New Jersey Devils put a disappointing loss in Vancouver behind them with a strong finish in Edmonton.
Patrik Elias and Brian Gionta scored in a 35-second span of the third period and New Jersey rallied to beat the Oilers 3-1 on Friday night in first-year Devils coach Brent Sutter's return to Alberta.
|The Devils Brian Gionta celebrates his goal against the Oilers during the first period of New Jersey's 3-1 win at Edmonton on Friday. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jimmy Jeong)
John Madden added an empty-net goal for the Devils in their first game in Edmonton since Dec. 30, 2001. New Jersey hasn't lost in Edmonton since Oct. 31, 1995.
Martin Brodeur made 20 saves for the Devils, allowing only Joni Pitkanen's first-period goal, three nights after struggling in a 5-0 loss in Vancouver.
"There is a real fine line between winning and losing," Madden said. "We had some good chances in Vancouver and didn't get any breaks. Tonight we capitalized on some of our chances and they missed on some of theirs."
Sutter, from nearby Viking, left the Red Deer Rebels - the Western Hockey League team he owns - to take over the Devils in July. Red Deer is about halfway between Edmonton and Calgary.
"We went five periods without scoring a goal and then things happened pretty quickly there," Sutter said. "We were playing more the way we wanted to play."
The Devils improved to 19-13-3 to maintain sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Division and second in the Eastern Conference.
Five minutes into the third, Gionta fed a pass through the top of the crease to Elias, who sent his seventh of the season into an open net.
The Devils made it 2-1 35 seconds later when Mathieu Garon made a toe save on Dainus Zubrus but couldn't regain his footing in time to stop Gionta on the rebound.
"It was a pivotal game," Gionta said. "It turned our trip around and now we have a chance to go home 2-1 on this road trip. Being down for so long in that game, it was huge to get that first one and then be able to chip in to close it out."
It was the first time in six games that the Oilers failed to earn at least a point. They went to shootouts in their previous four to set an NHL record.
"We just gave that game away. We literally gave it away," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. "It was Christmas time and we wrapped it up and gave it to them. We didn't compete hard enough in the second period to get the game. You string a team along and let them stay in the game and bad things happen and that's exactly what we did tonight. I thought we should have put them away in the first."
Notes: With goalie Dwayne Roloson felled by a bout of the flu, the Oilers signed University of Alberta goalie Aaron Sorochan to an NHL amateur tryout agreement. ... The Oilers honored scout Lorne Davis. He died of cancer on Thursday at 77. Davis, who won a Stanley Cup playing for the Montreal Canadiens in 1953, was the oldest working scout in the NHL. ... Defenseman Dick Tarnstrom returned to the Edmonton lineup after being sidelined by a concussion since Nov. 24.