Flipping the calendar from November to December seemed to cool down the New Jersey Devils.
The Devils are just 2-3-0 this month, and enter the week fourth in the Atlantic Division. They're nine points back of the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins, both tied for second in the division. They trail the first-place Philadelphia Flyers by 10 points. They're 12th in the Eastern Conference, two points behind the Washington Capitals for the eighth spot.
New Jersey turned around its play last week, winning two of the three games. The Devils broke a four-game losing streak against the Toronto Maple Leafs, defeating them 3-2 in overtime on Tuesday. David Clarkson played hero, netting the game-winner at 2:40 of the overtime period. He also scored a powerplay goal in the first period. It was his first multi-goal game of the season.
The Devils won their next game as well, defeating the Ottawa Senators, 5-4, in a shootout Thursday night. New Jersey came out flat, falling behind, 2-0, after the first period. Devils coach Peter DeBoer pulled Martin Brodeur, who allowed two goals on seven shots, to shake up his team. It didn't work immediately, as Daniel Alfredsson stretched the lead to 3-0 at 9:41 of the second period. But then the comeback started.
Zach Parise, who has struggled so far this season, scored his eighth goal of the season at 14:59 of the second period to put the Devils on the board. New Jersey then reeled off the next four goals, one shorthanded, to give them a lead. Ottawa battled back, and Jessie Winchester tied the game with just six seconds left. Adam Henrique played hero in the shootout, breaking a tie to send the Devils to their sixth shootout win this season.
The Montreal Canadiens denied the Devils a three-game win streak, defeating them, 2-1, Saturday afternoon at the Prudential Center. The Devils were down, 2-0, in the third period before making a comeback. Nick Palmieri tallied his fourth goal of the season, and Parise had an opportunity to tie the game on a penalty shot. Carey Price stopped the left wing, stacking the pads as Parise tried to send a backhanded shot through Price's legs.
The news didn't get much better on the injury front. Travis Zajac continues to practice with the team, and could return to the lineup Friday against the Dallas Stars. But the Devils defense lost two key players. Andy Greene will miss four weeks with a non-displaced toe fracture, and Anton Volchenkov was placed on injured reserve with a hand injury.
With 2011 quickly coming to a close, New Jersey needs to collect points to keep up in the division. They'll be on the road for three of their four games this week. Here is this week's New Jersey Devils schedule:
Monday, December 12, 2012 - New Jersey Devils at Tampa Bay Lightning (7 p.m, VERSUS)
The Devils get national attention this week when they face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning. It's the second of four meetings between the two teams this season. New Jersey won the first meeting, 4-2, November 19 at the St. Pete Times Forum. Tampa Bay enters the game sitting in 13th place in the Eastern Conference, with just 26 points. They've won just once in their last seven games. The Flyers defeated the Lightning, 4-2, Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center.
Tuesday, December 13, 2012 - New Jersey Devils at Florida Panthers (7:30 p.m., MSG Plus)
New Jersey finishes up it's Sunshine State road trip with a game against the Florida Panthers. The Panthers won the first meeting of the season, 4-3, November 21 in Florida. New Jersey led that game, 3-0, before the Panthers staged a four-goal comeback. They've struggled in December and enter the meeting riding a two-game losing streak. They lost to the New York Rangers, 6-1, Sunday at Madison Square Garden. They enter the week just two points back of the conference lead.
Friday, December 16, 2012 - Dallas Stars at New Jersey Devils (8 p.m., MSG Plus)
New Jersey finishes its two-game series against the Dallas Stars Friday night. Dallas won the first meeting, 3-1, October 29, on home ice. Former Devil Sheldon Souray recorded two points, collecting an assist and a empty-net goal. New Jersey will retire Scott Niedermayer's number that night, marking just the third time in team history a player will have his number raised to the rafters.
Saturday, December 13, 2012 - New Jersey Devils at Montreal Canadiens (7 p.m., MSG Plus)
The Devils finish a busy week with the second of back-to-back games against the Canadiens. It's the second of four meetings between the two teams this season. Montreal defeated the Devils, 2-1, December 10 at the Prudential Center. It's the first time New Jersey will play in the Bell Centre this season.
Goals: Patrik Elias and David Clarkson - 9
Assists: Patrik Elias and Adam Henrique - 14
Points: Patrik Elias - 23
Plus/Minus: Three tied - +1
PIM: David Clarkson - 52
Wins: Johan Hedberg - 8
GAA: Johan Hedberg - 2.26
Save Percentage: Johan Hedberg - .915
Shutouts: Johan Hedberg - 2