Gomez, Elias help Devils nip Caps in shootout

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Martin Brodeur has played more than his share of shootouts lately, so when Friday night's tit-for-tat went to the
fifth round, the New Jersey Devils' goalie tried something a little different against Ben Clymer of the Washington Capitals.

Brodeur moved forward and waved his glove hand in an attempt to distract Clymer. Clymer's shot hit that very glove at the base of the palm, the winning save in the Devils' 4-3 victory.

"I wanted to challenge him," Brodeur said. "I went further than usual, and I waved my glove hand in his face and tried to get his attention. It worked out well. I don't know if he looked at me or not, but I was moving everything I could."

Scott Gomez scored twice and Patrik Elias got three assists in his first appearance since the Olympics as the Devils played their fourth shootout in five games. Brodeur is not a fan of the shootout, but he has a 7-3 record in the post-overtime mini-dramas, and he worked extra time in practice Thursday after losing a
shootout Tuesday against the New York Islanders.

"I think I took about 35, 40 breakaways from guys out in front and just got a little of my rhythm back," Brodeur said. "I felt a little more big in net. I don't believe in the system of shootouts to win games, but this is what it is and the fans love it."

Brian Gionta scored his 35th goal for the Devils, who swept the four-game season series from the Capitals. Viktor Kozlov, Gomez and Sergei Brylin netted in the shootout.

Matt Pettinger, Bryan Muir and Dainius Zubrus scored for the Capitals, who blew a 2-0 first-period lead and sent the game to overtime on Zubrus' power-play goal with 33 seconds left in the regulation. Brian Willsie and Brooks Laich converted in the shootout.

The Devils shut out Alexander Ovechkin, who had scored in seven straight games to move within one of Jaromir Jagr's league-leading 43 goals. Ovechkin also missed his attempt in the shootout, with Brodeur sprawling to the ice to keep the rookie from getting off a good shot.

Elias was sidelined with bruised ribs while playing for the Czech Republic in the Olympics and also missed the first three months of the season with hepatitis A. He returned Friday and got the primary assist on first-period goals by Gionta and Gomez before supplying the pass to Gionta for the secondary assist on Gomez's score early in the third period.

"There's no question what Patrik does when he's in the lineup," Devils general manager and coach Lou Lamoriello said. "That whole line was moving the puck."

The Capitals took advantage of a careless delay of game penalty to get Zubrus' game-tying goal and salvage a point in the standings.

Washington got the man advantage when New Jersey's Jay Pandolfo lifted the puck over the boards after a faceoff with 1:12 remaining. Goaltender Olaf Kolzig soon left the ice, giving the Capitals another extra attacker. Jeff Halpern, getting the puck at the corner boards, got his fed Zubrus by the crease.

"We need to be able to put a team away," Halpern said. "We weren't able to do that, but we were able to get a late goal. Two breakdowns and a couple of penalties in the first -- other than that, we played pretty well."

Game notes
Halpern's assist was his 200th career NHL point. ... Muir has three goals and three assists in three games this week. ... Typical for the first game after the trade deadline, there were four new faces on the ice. Defensemen Ken Klee (traded from Toronto) and Brad Lukowich (traded from Islanders) debuted for the Devils. Center Kris Beech (traded from Nashville) and left winger Rico Fata (claimed off waivers from Atlanta) skated for the Capitals. New Jersey also obtained center Jason Wiemer from Calgary this week, but he has yet to join the team because of impending immigration
paperwork. ... Defenseman Jamie Heward, who missed two games with an upper body injury, returned for the Capitals. ... New Jersey defenseman Richard Matvichuk sat out his fourth straight game with a back injury. ... The Capitals assigned defenseman Mike Green and forward Jakub Klepis to the
Hershey Bears of the AHL.