It wasn't much of a night for the first place Devils. With a chance to increase their conference lead, instead they didn't show up ready for hockey easily being shutout 4-0 by the new and improved Capitals at The Prudential Center.
Despite a strong start by Marty Brodeur, the Devs couldn't muster much against ex-Jacket Sergei Fedorov and new Capital goalie Cristobal Huet. Instead, their power play fizzled firing blanks while finishing 0-for-3. Meanwhile, the opportunistic Caps cashed in on both of theirs including NHL-leading goalscoring D-man Mike Green, who whistled one past Brodeur off a nice Alexander Semin feed a little more than halfway through the scoreless contest.
Brodeur came up with what looked to be a large stop on a Tom Poti pointblank chance from 35 at the end of the second. Unfortunately, his teammates drew zero inspiration instead getting badly outworked and outplayed by a hungry Washington squad hell bent on catching the battered Hurricanes for the Southeast Division.
The end result was:
Caps 3 Devs 0
SOG: Wsh-13 NJ-2
Though the Devils again held league leading finisher Alexander Ovechkin off the scoreboard, the Russian still setup one-time Dev Viktor Kozlov's 17th just 43 seconds into the final stanza. They would tack on a couple of more with Semin notching his 20th off a Poti setup and then out of all people, Washington enforcer Donald Brashear got into the act.
Unchecked, the noted tough guy buried a Matt Bradley pass in the slot for his fourth to put the exclamation point on a stunning Caps' statement with 2:55 to go.
Notes: The Devils finished with only 18 shots and went only 20-for-47 in the faceoff circle. ... Fedorov registered his first point as a Cap with a secondary helper on Green's deciding tally in the middle stanza. ... Rookie pivot Nicklas Backstrom tallied two assists. Poti also had two assists as well. ... Deadline pickup Bryce Salvador logged over 20:00 in his Devil debut on the blueline finishing minus-one. ... Brodeur turned aside 25 of 29 in defeat.
Tops in the East on line in Montreal: The Devs will look to rebound when they visit the Habs up in Montreal with tops in the conference on the line. Usually, the Montreal native Brodeur shines in those. The Habs are coming off a 6-2 rout of Buffalo in which Tomas Plekanec notched a hat trick and leading scorer Alex Kovalev tallied four assists. We'll see what happens.