By John Schweibacher
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The New Jersey Devils have picked up seven of a possible eight points since the All-Star break as they reach their five-day NHL “bye week.”
The Devils ended their seven-game home losing streak (0-5-2) with a 2-1 win over the Sabres on Monday night at the Prudential Center. The streak was New Jersey’s longest on home ice since it began the 2010-11 season with defeats in its first seven games at the Rock (0-5-2).
Pavel Zacha, who now has four goals and three assists over the last nine games, scored his first game-winning goal in the NHL to give New Jersey the victory vs. Buffalo.
The Elias Sports Bureau noted that the 19-year-old Zacha is the first teenager to score a game-winning goal for the Devils since Scott Gomez in a 3-1 victory against Ottawa on Nov. 20, 1999.
Adam Henrique had the the first New Jersey goal in the win Monday night on his 27th birthday. Henrique also scored on his birthday a year ago, in a 3-2 Devils’ shootout loss to the Capitals.
On Saturday night, the Devils won their sixth consecutive road game, 5-1 over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Taylor Hall scored a pair of goals for New Jersey in the win, his third two-goal game this season. According to Elias, this is the third consecutive season in which a Devils player has at least three multiple-goal games in his first season with the team.
Michael Cammalleri had five multi-goal games in 2014-15, and Kyle Palmieri had three in his first year with New Jersey last season. Elias noted that before these last three, no Devils newcomer had recorded at least three multiple-goal games since Steve Thomas (four) and rookie Petr Sykora (three) both did so in the 1995-96 season.
Seth Helgeson scored the first NHL goal of his career to cap off the victory in Columbus. Helgeson is the sixth Devils player and third defenseman to score his first NHL goal this season:
• 2/4/17: Seth Helgeson at CBJ
• 1/12/17: Steven Santini vs. Edm
• 11/29/16: Miles Wood at Wpg
• 11/11/16: Yohann Auvitu at Buf
• 11/8/16: Nick Lappin vs. Car
• 11/3/16: Pavel Zacha at Fla
On Friday night, the Devils settled for one point with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Flames at the Prudential Center. Mikael Backlund scored the game-winner for Calgary at 1:13 into OT.
The only other two Flames to score overtime goals against the Devils have been Martin Gelinas (5-4 at Calgary 3/5/03) and Kent Nilsson (4-3 at New Jersey on Nov. 12, 1983).
Calgary defenseman T.J. Brodie set his career high for assists in one game, chipping in on all four Flames goals. Brodie joined Al MacInnis (Oct. 30, 1990) and Gary Suter (March 15, 1990) as the only Flames to have four assists in a game against New Jersey.
Lat Tuesday, the Devils beat the Red Wings, 4-3, in Detroit in the first game after the All-Star break for both teams. Stefan Noesen opened the scoring with his fourth goal of the season at 1:28 of the first period, giving him two goals in his first two games as a Devil.
Noesen joined Devante Smith-Pelly (2016), Doug Gilmour (1997) and Bob Brooke (1990) as the only players to score goals in their first two games with New Jersey. Noesen was claimed off waivers last month from Anaheim.
Kyle Palmieri scored two goals, including the first shorthanded goal of his NHL career, in the win against the Red Wings. Elias noted that before Palmieri, the last Devils player to register a multi-goal game in a win for New Jersey in Detroit was Tom Chorske, who had two goals in a 6-3 victory at Joe Louis Arena on Jan. 31, 1992.
Plus: Road Show. The Devils’ current six-game road winning streak is the club’s longest since winning seven consecutive road games in January and February 2012.
Minus: Home Alone. New Jersey ended its home winless streak Monday. But after scoring three or more goals in eight of their first 13 home games, the Devils have scored three times just twice in their last 11 games at the Prudential Center.