Detroit Red Wings at New Jersey Devils: Early Detroit Goals Help Sink Devils, 4-1

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Red Wings 4, Devils 1: Early Goals Sink New Jersey

The Detroit Red Wings ended the game before most fans found their seats.

The Red Wings scored two goals in the first 1:42 of the game and defeated the New Jersey Devils, 3-1, at the Prudential Center tonight.

Tomas Holmstrom put the Red Wings ahead, 1-0, only 28 seconds into the first period. Pavel Datsyuk set up near the point and fired a wrist shot on net. Holmstrom deflected the puck, which hit the right post and deflected off the arm of Martin Brodeur and into the net.

It was Holmstrom's ninth goal of the season.

Daniel Cleary pushed the lead to 2-0 at 1:42 of the opening period. Todd Bertuzzi fed Clearly with a cross-ice pass, and the Red Wings' right-winger carried the puck down the left side. Brodeur came out of his crease to challenge, and Cleary snapped a wrist shot past Brodeur's glove. It was Cleary's 13th goal of the season.

Tonight's game marked the second straight home game in which the Devils faced a two-goal deficit before the two-minute mark of the first period. During a 5-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on December 2, the Devils allowed two goals in 1:38.

Henrik Zetterberg stretched the lead to 3-0 at 11:37 of the second period. Datsyuk threw a blind pass that found Zetterberg in the left circle. His initial shot was blocked by Brodeur, but the Devils' goalie left a rebound in the slot. Zetterberg beat Rod Pelley to the puck and put a shot off the down and out Brodeur for his 10th goal of the season.

Patrik Elias broke the shutout and cut the deficit to 3-1 with a powerplay tally 39 seconds into the final period. With Niklas Kronwall in the box for boarding, Travis Zajac held the puck along the side boards. He sent a pass to Ilya Kovalchuk at the point, who found Elias near the circle. Elias ripped a shot past the screened Chris Osgood for his sixth goal of the season.

The powerplay tally was Elias' third in the past four games.

Datsyuk ended any thought of a Devils' comeback by restoring the three-goal lead at 10:12 of the third period. Henrik Tallinder and Mark Fayne both chased a puck to the corner, leaving Datsyuk alone in the slot. Zetterberg fed Datsyuk with a backhanded pass, and the Red Wings center buried a shot between Brodeur's pads for his 11th tally of the season.

Chris Osgood, making only his second start since October 30, stopped 33 shots in the win. Martin Brodeur recorded 20 saves in the loss.

The loss tonight was the Devils' fifth straight. It's their third losing streak of three-plus games this season. The losing has taken its toll on the players.

"Sure we’re all (angry). We’re all frustrated," Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner told the media after the game. "We’re all kind of beside ourselves over what the heck is going on out here, what are we doing wrong and what are we missing. I think that’s the most frustrating part. We can’t find the answer. I don’t know if anyone can."

Game Notes

Kovalchuk's assist gave him three assists in the past two games...With their 1-for-5 showing tonight, the Devils' powerplay is now 6-for-15 (40%) over their past four games...The Devils penalty kill went 3-for-3 tonight and has killed their last 17 opportunities...Elias now has five points (three goals, two assists) in his past five games.

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Detroit Red Wings at New Jersey Devils: Detroit Leads Devils, 3-0, After Two Periods

The Detroit Red Wings lead the New Jersey Devils, 3-0, after two periods tonight at the Prudential Center.

The Devils lead in shots, 25-19.

Already ahead 2-0 after one period, Henrik Zetterberg pushed the Red Wings advantage to 3-0 at 11:37 of the period. Pavel Datsyuk held the puck along the side boards, and sent a blind pass to the slot. Zetterberg's initial shot was blocked by Brodeur, and a rebound came back to the slot. Zetterberg beat Rod Pelley to the puck, firing a backhand off the shoulder of down and out Brodeur for his 10th goal of the season.

The period also featured a fight between David Clarkson and Johnathan Ericsson. Clarkson went after Ericsson after the Red Wings' defenseman hit Mattias Tedenby. Ericsson tried to hold on for most of the fight, but eventually Clarkson got free and got a few rights in. Eventually both players fell to the ice.

The Devils' fans booed the team as they skated off the ice.

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Detroit Red Wings at New Jersey Devils: Red Wings Lead, 2-0, After One Period

The Detroit Red Wings lead the New Jersey Devils, 2-0, after one period in their game tonight at the Prudential Center.

The Devils lead in shots, 13-10.

Detroit struck twice in the opening 1:42 seconds to take the lead. In the Devils last home game, a 5-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on December 2, the Devils allowed two goals in the first 1:38.

Tomas Holmstrom gave the Red Wings a 1-0 lead only 28 seconds into the first period. Pavel Datsyuk put a wrist shot on net from the slot that Holmstrom deflected. The puck hit the right post and caromed off the back of Martin Brodeur's arm and into the net for Holmstom's ninth goal of the season.

Dan Clearly extended the lead to 2-0 at 1:42 of the opening period. Cleary received a pass from Todd Bertuzzi in the neutral zone and brought it down the left side. The Red Wings right-winger rifled a shot past the glove of Brodeur for his 13th goal of the season.

The Devils had the opportunity to get back in the game on their first powerplay chance. New Jersey had several chances down low, including two chances with the puck loose in the crease. But Nicklas Lidstrom played hero, twice clearing the puck.

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Detroit Red Wings at New Jersey Devils: New Jersey Looking To Break Skid

The New Jersey Devils enter tonight's game against the Detroit Red Wings desperately looking for a win.

It won't be an easy task, as the Red Wings come in as the number one team in the Western Conference. Detroit also carries a 7-3-1 road record into tonight's game.

The Devils, who lost eight of their last 11 games, need to win games. New Jersey, who has made the postseason for 13 straight seasons, are dangerously close to falling out of the playoff race. 

Center Jason Arnott explained the need to win now.

"We're getting further and further away from that No. 8 spot," Arnott said to Rich Chere of The Star-Ledger. "It's getting nearly impossible. If we don't put a string of wins together by Christmas time we're going to find ourselves on a long road."

The Devils lost a critical two points last night when they lost to the Ottawa Senators, 3-2, at Scotiabank Place. Down by one in the third period, the Devils appeared to tie the game when the puck deflected off the skate of David Clarkson and into the back of the net. Referee Bill Watson ruled that Clarkson kicked the pucked into the net, and Toronto upheld the ruling. That call overturned what would have been a game-tying goal. 

One positive in a sea of negatives is the Devils' powerplay. After going 1-for-43 on the road, the Devils' were 5-for-8 in their final three road games. It's an encouraging and frustrating sign.

"That's what's frustrating about it," MacLean said to Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. "You get one aspect going. The power play has been scoring and five-on-five we haven't been where we needed to be."

While no player believes tonight is a must-win, Dainius Zubrus stressed how every game is critical.

"Which games are not critical now, if you think about it?" asked Dainius Zubrus. "You can't go into a game thinking if we're off, maybe tomorrow we'll win. The hole we're in right now, it's tough."

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