Devils Take Opener Over Rival Isles

Martin Brodeur picked up right where he left off.

The Devils 40-year old netminder, starting his 18th straight season opener, made 19 saves to lead the New Jersey Devils to a 2-1 win over the New York Islanders tonight at Nassau Coliseum.

David Clarkson broke a 1-1 tie at 8:17 of the third period. The right-wing took a pass from Patrik Elias above the left circle, quickly firing a shot between the legs of Evgeni Nabakov for his first goal of the season.

Just a minute earlier, a Travis Harmonic powerplay goal helped the Islanders tie the game.

A scrum in the corner led to two Devils defenseman falling to the ice. Harmonic, open in the slot, took a pass from Michael Grabner and outsmarted Brodeur, beating the veteran stick side.

Travis Zajac scored the game’s lone goal, an even-strength tally at 14:01 of the second period. Tallinder started the play in his own end, sending a pass to Ilya Kovalchuk and sending the Devils on a 2-on-1 rush. Kovalchuk floated a pass to the stick of Zajac, who chipped it past the outstretched pads of Nabakov.

The goalies stole the show in the first period, keeping both teams scoreless. Just five minutes into the contest, Mattias Tedenby took a pass and moved in alone on Nabakov. The Devils left wing tried to put a backhand shot high, but the Isles goalie stacked the pads, forcing a shot over the crossbar.

Nabakov finished with 26 saves in the loss.

Brodeur matched that save, stopping Grabner on a breakaway at the 11 minute mark of the opening period. Grabner got in past the Devils defense, firing a shot from above the left circle that Brodeur shouldered away.

He robbed Grabner again in the third period, stretching out his left arm to knock away a shot from the side of the net.

The win marks the fourth straight for the Devils over the Islanders. They won three straight over New York last season.

New Jersey returns to the Prudential Center Tuesday night, their home opener, against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Islanders host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday.

Three Stars

1. Martin Brodeur

The Devils goalie needed to be sharp, especially over the final two periods. Brodeur made 15 of his 18 saves during the second and third periods, turning away an Islanders offense that struggled to get going during the opening frame. The lockout didn’t slow down the Devils goalie, who looked sharp all night. The one blemish, Harmonic’s goal, was an impossible situation that would have required a spectacular save. Brodeur, who started his 18th straight season opener, is 10-6-0 with 2 ties in the season’s first game.

2. Evgeni Nabakov

The Islanders lost the game, but it wasn’t because of their goalie. Nabakov made save after save, shutting out the Devils in the opening period. He kept New York in the game throughout, but beat on a tough goal in the third period.

3. David Clarkson

The right wing picked up where he left off last season, scoring yet another game-winning goal. He led New Jersey with seven game-winners last year, and set a career-high with 30 goals. Playing on an effective second line, Clarkson was in the middle of several quality scoring chances. With the loss of Zach Parise, New Jersey will need him to continue producing. If his line can play the way they did tonight, it won’t be hard for him to find offensive success.

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