By John Schweibacher
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The New Jersey Devils will head to the Christmas break with a road matchup against the defending Stanley Cup-champion Chicago Blackhawks before they return home following the holiday to host the Columbus Blue Jackets and visit the New York Islanders this weekend.
Andy Greene scored the first overtime goal of his NHL career to complete the Devils’ comeback from a two-goal, third-period deficit in their 5-4 victory at Washington Saturday night. Greene also recorded two assists in New Jersey’s win.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only other defenseman in Devils history to score three or more points in one game, including an overtime goal, was Brian Rafalski against the New York Rangers back on October 8, 2005. Rafalski had two assists before scoring the OT game-winner in New Jersey’s 3-2 win at the Meadowlands.
New Jersey defensemen come into the week with 17 goals and 52 assists, tied for the 12th-highest team point total in the NHL and the sixth-best in the Eastern Conference (totals through games of 12/22):
• Chicago: 107
• St. Louis: 93
• Ottawa: 89
• Phoenix: 83
• Vancouver: 80
• San Jose: 76
• Columbus: 73
• Boston: 71
• Montreal: 71
• Pittsburgh: 71
• Winnipeg: 71
• New Jersey: 69
• Anaheim: 69
• Los Angeles: 69
• Calgary: 69
The Devils lead the NHL in fewest penalty minutes with 287 through 37 games, an average of 7.8 per game. New Jersey’s team record for fewest penalty minutes in a non work-stoppage season is 765 (an average of 9.3 per game) set in 2010-11.
Here are the Devils’ best single-season marks for fewest penalty minutes:
• 2010-11: 765, 9.3
• 2006-07: 830, 10.1
• 2009-10: 859, 10.5
• 2003-04: 894, 10.9
• 2002-03: 938, 11.4
• 2011-12: 944, 11.5
Kyle Palmieri scored the overtime winner for Anaheim against the Devils in the Ducks’ 3-2 win over New Jersey last Friday night at Prudential Center. It was the 20th career goal for Palmieri, who was born in Smithtown, New York, and grew up in Montvale, New Jersey.
According to Hockey-Reference.com, Palmieri still has a long way to go to reach the top of this list; the most career NHL goals scored by a New York-born player are:
• Joe Mullen: New York City, 502
• Brian Mullen: New York City, 260
• Brian Gionta: Rochester, 236
• Eric Cole: Oswego, 234
• Mathieu Schneider: New York City, 223
Here are the career leaders who were born in New Jersey:
• Randy Wood: Princeton, 175
• Bobby Ryan: Cherry Hill, 163
• Brian Lawton: New Brunswick, 112
• James van Riemsdyk: Middletown, 79
• Jim Dowd: Brick, 71
(totals for active players through 12/21)
The Devils’ loss to the Ducks was their first in their five all-time regular-season games against Anaheim decided after regulation, while the Ducks’ took both of the games that went to sudden-death in the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals:
• 12/20/2013: Anaheim 3 @ NJ Devils 2 OT, Kyle Palmieri
• 11/20/2013: NJ Devils 4 @ Anaheim 3 OT, Travis Zajac
• 2/17/2012: Anaheim 2 @ NJ Devils 3 SO, Patrik Elias
• 11/26/03: NJ Devils 3 @ Anaheim 3, Tie
• 6/2/03: NJ Devils 0 @ Anaheim 1 OT, Steve Thomas
• 5/31/03: NJ Devils 2 @ Anaheim 3 OT, Ruslan Salei
• 11/12/02: Anaheim 2 @ NJ Devils 3 OT, Jamie Langenbrunner
Teemu Selanne had two assists for the Ducks in their overtime win against the Devils in what might have been his final career game against New Jersey. Selanne, who has nine goals and 11 assists in 28 career games vs. the Devils, first appeared against New Jersey back on December 15, 1992, in a 4-3 Devils loss in Winnipeg against the Jets.
Jaromir Jagr took sole possession of eighth place on the NHL’s all-time goal-scoring list when he registered the 693rd goal of his career in the Devils’ 5-2 win over the Senators last Tuesday and moved into a tie for seventh with goal No. 694 Saturday. Earlier in Tuesday night’s game, New Jersey rookie Reid Boucher scored the first goal of his NHL career. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time in 10 years that a player scored his first NHL goal in the same game in which a teammate with at least as many goals as Jagr also scored.
Elias also says the most recent instance before Jagr and Boucher happened in the Red Wings’ 7-1 win against the Oilers back on November 26, 2003. Brett Hull tallied the 726th goal of his career in the second period of that game, after Detroit rookie Darryl Bootland notched his first NHL goal in the opening period. That turned out to be the only goal of Bootland’s 32-game NHL career.
Minus: 1st Of Back-To-Backs — New Jersey’s overtime loss to Anaheim dropped their record to 3-5-2 in the front half of back-to-back games this season.
Plus: 2nd Of Back-To-Backs — The Devils’ overtime win in Washington improved their record to 6-1-3 in the back half when playing games on consecutive days.
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