It's all going the Devils' way these days. On the night new coach Brent Sutter appropriately tabbed Jamie Langenbrunner the team's eighth captain in their history, the Devils mounted a three-goal comeback to post a 4-3 overtime win and pull into a three-way first place tie with the Flyers and Rangers in a crowded Atlantic.
Once again, the catalyst was the Devs' best player Zach Parise. This wiz kid just gets better and better every game. His two goals and assist carried New Jersey back from three down after one period of play.
Parise just has a knack for being in the right spot with the puck. Look no further than his first of the night via a man-advantage where he snuck one past Tim Thomas from a tough angle behind the net. It was the smart play because the Boston netminder was stopping every tough chance he saw. So the crafty kid did the wise thing and caught a break by surprising him.
If you thought that was good, the tying marker was one of the best examples of hand eye coordination I've ever seen. Sheldon Brookbank took a right point shot and with Parise with back turned bunted it down past a shocked Thomas to force OT with over five minutes left for his club-leading 14th. What a player!
How did the Islanders and Rangers and all those other teams pass this kid up again in 2003? He's just amazing and is the offensive catalyst for this Devil club.
Sutter did the smart thing and stuck slumping winger Patrik Elias with Parise and Brian Gionta. The move paid dividends as the 31 year-old Czech tallied twice and notched a helper.
But no goal was bigger than Elias' deciding one in OT. How was it created? How else? By the speedy Parise backing up the Boston D and then dropping a pass for a streaking Elias who used Andrew Alberts as a screen to fire past Boston backup Tuukka Rask for the winner.
Given how well Parise is playing, it's hard to single out any other Devil and that includes Martin Brodeur, Langenbrunner, Gionta, Colin White and new December alternates John Madden and Paul Martin.
Parise is the man carrying this team. He's the biggest reason the Devils aren't dead and buried in a very competitive conference.
If only more players could play the game with his vigor.