He won’t say it in front of the rest of the press, but he is eyeing that scoring leader title currently held by Alexander Ovechkin. I could tell…he was waiting for me to ask the question about his two goals and his new second place title that he now shares with Jeff Carter (Philadelphia Flyers). Before the game, he was tied for third with Thomas Vanek (Buffalo Sabres).
So I asked him if he was now eyeing the leading goal scorer title. He laughed.
“I have the same answer for you,” he said. “I just want to keep playing well and hopefully things will just take care of themselves. I know it sounds like a cliché, but I’m not gonna [say it].”
A few minutes after that response he asked if Ovechkin had scored a goal in the game against the New York Rangers. I responded that he hadn’t scored a goal in the game, which means that Parise only needs 3 more goals to tie with Ovechkin for first place.
On Wednesday night, Parise surpassed his goal scoring record from last season, where he had 32 goals. With 34 goals and counting, this season would be, by far, his best season in his entire professional hockey career. So far, he has a total of 67 points, the most he has had in his career.
“Zach’s the [kind of] player that his compete level is very high,” coach Sutter said. “He’s got that center of gravity because of his stature…he’s so strong on his feet. He’s hard to knock off. He’s strong on pucks. He wins a lot of battles. He’s one of those guys. He competes in everything he gets. That’s why he’s successful [and] gets the kinds of goals he scores.”
“He puts himself in the position to score goals,” Jamie Langenbrunner said of Parise’s success. “Trav[is Zajac] and I have just enjoyed playing with him. We know where he’s going to be. It makes our job pretty easy. We get pucks to the net.”
On Wednesday night, the Islanders didn’t allow winning to come so easily for the Devils. The last place team in the league really battled to win, but came up short against Langenbrunner and Parise.
The Islanders got on the board quickly 2:32 into the first period when defenseman Radek Martinek scored on Kevin Weekes. Parise tied up the game at 18:39 after grabbing a rebound from Paul Martin’s deflected shot and sending it through Joey MacDonald’s back-door to record his 33rd goal of the season.
In the second stanza, Bobby Holik was sent to the penalty box for goaltender interference. Kyle Okposo swung in and around the Devils and sent a shot through which was deflected by Weekes. Okposo picked up the rebound and flung it back in to record a power play goal at 6:15.
An accidental run-in between Doug Weight and Brian Gionta sent an injured Weight struggling to walk back to the locker room. He never returned to the game. The Islanders reported later that Weight’s knee was injured in the collision.
Gionta had some massive hits during the game. The little Devil laid a solid hit on Jack Hillen that could be felt all the way to the press box. He even laid out a linesman flat on his back after a face-off.
With Bill Guerin in the penalty box for hooking, Langenbrunner’s slapshot at the top of the face-off circle found top-shelf which tied up the game 2-2 at the end of the middle period.
The Devils dominated the final period with Parise and Langenbrunner both taking their second goals of the night. Paul Martin’s attempt at a shot on goal during the power play ended up bouncing off of Travis Zajac. Parise found the loose puck and scored at 12:35.
With the net empty towards the end of regulation, Langenbrunner and Zajac both attempted to get the puck to Parise for a hat trick, but their attempts failed when the Islanders blocked Parise in and he wasn’t able to get a shot on goal. He passed the puck back to Langenbrunner who decided that enough time had been wasted in trying to get Parise his third for the night, so he finished the scoring off for the night and the Devils defeated the Islanders 4-2.
Weekes Going Strong
The Devils had an amazing 50 shots on goal Wednesday night, while the Islanders had half of that on the Devils. But with this contest, Weekes said it was like playing street hockey.
“Even MacDonald made about eight of those,” he said. “Where he made such desperate street hockey-type saves. You know, great saves at great times.”
Weekes has not seen a lot of ice time this season. Goaltenders have always spoken about the importance of playing in games on a continuous basis. It keeps their minds completely on the task at hand and keeps them in shape and ready to go. It’s more difficult for a goaltender who has been sitting on the bench for some time to come out and win a game.
“I felt great,” he said about how he felt during the game. “I’m in good shape. I’m in the gym all the time. I think the toughest thing is the scramble of the game. It’s a little bit different, because you can’t just get your position and hold your position and be patient. Pucks are going off skates, they’re out of control. You have to completely control the puck. All of a sudden there’s a turnover and their guys are all of a sudden in front of you. There were a couple of those plights tonight, too, especially in the third period.”
At the time we were discussing these plights on the ice, right on cue, David Clarkson came by and tripped in front of us. Weekes replied, “Like that!” We both started to laugh and Clarky stood in the doorway looking back at us trying to figure out what he should say to Weekes, who was egging on the situation before he responded, “Shut up,” and walked off embarrassed with a bright red face.
“That always makes it tougher that way,” he continued recollecting himself. “As opposed to getting your position, straight on shot, making the save, trying to get the rebound, playing a clean game. It’s a lot easier that way. You take them as they come to you.”
When Brodeur returns, it is difficult to say what will happen between both Weekes and Scott Clemmensen. Brodeur has been coming along just fine in practice. Coach Sutter has been working with Marty to see how he is progressing. He said that when Marty can stop all 7 shots against him, then he’ll let him play. Right now, he has only been able to stop four out of seven shots.
The Devils will host the Bruins on Friday and the San Jose Sharks on Sunday.