The New Jersey Devils have finally gotten on a roll without Martin Brodeur. Efforts like Dainius Zubrus' four-goal game in the team's last outing have certainly helped that happen.
The Devils look to extend their season-high winning streak to five games Wednesday when they take on the Florida Panthers, who will try to slow down Zubrus after his dominant performance.
New Jersey (11-7-2) went 1-5-0 in its first six games without Brodeur, who was lost Nov. 1 to a torn biceps that is expected to keep him out four months. Since that slump, the Devils have uncharacteristically relied on offense to put together a win streak, outscoring opponents 21-11 during their four-game run.
Four of those goals came from Zubrus on Sunday, as he lifted New Jersey to a 7-3 road victory over Tampa Bay. The center came in with two goals on the season.
"I had chances," Zubrus said. "Since I've played with Brian Gionta and Patrik Elias, I've had more chances than I had before. They just started going in."
Elias added three assists for the Devils - all on Zubrus goals. Gionta also scored and has a goal in four straight games.
"You know what? We're playing hockey," coach Brent Sutter said. "It's going from our dressing room right on to the bench and out onto the ice. We're getting contributions from everybody. Everyone is just doing their job and playing a sound team game, and that's really important and they're being rewarded for it."
Scott Clemmensen has helped stabilize New Jersey in goal, going 3-0-0 with a 2.92 goals-against average during the win streak and posting a 2.60 GAA on the season. The second victory during the Devils' streak came against Florida on Thursday, and Clemmensen stopped 23 shots in a 3-1 win.
While the Devils are surging, the Panthers (8-11-1) earned a 3-2 home victory over Carolina on Monday night to avoid a third consecutive loss. Gregory Campbell's goal snapped a tie late in the second period and Florida made it stand up by allowing only seven shots in the third.
"We have to be determined," left wing Ville Peltonen, whose goal gave Florida a 2-0 lead late in the first, told the team's official Web site. "We showed in the first and third periods what that can do."
The goal was Peltonen's second in two games after being shut out in Florida's first 18.
"We have to carry this over to Wednesday," Peltonen said. "We can't be satisfied with one game."
The win turned out to be a somewhat costly one for the Panthers, who lost forward Richard Zednik for several weeks with a left arm injury suffered in the second period. Zednik has three goals and five assists on the season.
The Devils will also be without key players Wednesday, as center John Madden (left foot) missed his second straight game Sunday and is day to day. Defenseman Mike Mottau will be completing a two-game suspension for elbowing New York Islanders forward Frans Nielsen on Friday.
The last three matchups between the Devils and Panthers came at the Izod Center. Elias and Gionta each had a goal and an assist in Thursday's victory as the teams alternated losses and wins for the fifth straight meeting.