WASHINGTON -- Scott Clemmensen ran his fingers over the indentation on the cage of his goalie's mask, a battle scar from his first victory in 11 months.
The Devils got away with one on Sunday, defeating the Capitals 3-2 with Scott Clemmensen in goal. It was New Jersey's first victory in which Martin Brodeur wasn't the goaltender of record since March 24, 2006, when Clemmensen defeated the Bruins.
Brodeur's streak of 49 consecutive regular-season wins for the Devils matched the second-longest streak of team wins posted by one goaltender for a particular club in the NHL's expansion era. Olaf Kolzig had 52 consecutive wins for Washington from December 1999 to December 2000; Tony Esposito earned all 49 Chicago victories from November 1975 to March 1977.
Washington had tied the game less than a minute earlier on Alexander Ovechkin's team-leading 35th goal, a blistering wrister that bent Clemmensen's wire face protection, much to the goalie's amazement.
"I've been hit in the mask a lot -- the cage will bend, it takes the velocity off the puck and it will drop in front of you," Clemmensen said. "I can't believe it hit me, bent my cage and went in. It had to have been a really hard shot."
Zach Parise and Travis Zajac each had a goal and an assist for the Devils, who have won four straight road games and four of five overall.
"The finish wasn't quite there early on, but sure enough, we scored the winner on the power play on what you could probably call a garbage goal," Devils coach Claude Julien said.
Brooks Laich also scored for the Capitals, who have lost six of seven and were bidding for a home-and-home weekend sweep of the Devils.
"Overall, we played fairly patient hockey for six periods, against most likely the most patient, sound defensive team," Washington coach Glen Hanlon said. "So six pretty good periods and it came down to one shot."
Instead, Clemmensen -- in his second start of the year -- made 23 saves for his first victory since March 24, 2006. New Jersey averted its first losing streak since dropping three straight from Dec. 12-16.
"I tried to be as comfortable as I could out there," Clemmensen said. "Once I got a couple of saves, I felt more and more comfortable. As you get more comfortable, you get more confident."
Martin Brodeur got the first 38 wins for the Devils, the most consecutive wins for a goalie to start a season in NHL history.
Laich put Washington up 1-0 16:02 into the opening period. John Erskine's drive from the left point careened off the skate of New Jersey's Jay Pandolfo in the left circle and Laich knocked in the rebound from the right side.
New Jersey tied it on Parise's team-high 26th goal 5:34 into the second. Stationed between the circles, Parise converted a left-wing feed from Zajac.
Zajac was at the right post to give the Devils a 2-1 lead with 18:23 remaining in the third period. Parise's shot went between Johnson's pads, bounced off his right skate and Zajac popped in the loose puck at the left post.
But the lead lasted only until Ovechkin got his first goal in six games with 10:47 to go. Using defenseman Paul Martin as a screen during a dash down the left wing, Ovechkin snapped the mask-bending wrist shot from the left circle.
"I got it in -- finally," Ovechkin said.
Parise has five goals in seven games. ... The Devils scratched RW Brian Gionta (groin) for a sixth straight game, while Washington RW Eric Fehr (sore back) sat out his second consecutive game. ... Attendance was announced at 14,585, but a winter storm kept many seats empty.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Arena: Verizon Center Location: Washington, District of Columbia
Referees: Dan Marouelli Linesmen: Steve Barton, David Brisebois
Attendance: 14,585 (79.3% full)
Team Stat Comparison
Power Play Goals
Power Play Opportunities
Shots on Goal
Brooks Laich (7)
Assists: John Erskine, Richard Zednik