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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.