NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Travis Zajac and Zach Parise each scored twice and Ilya Kovalchuk had a goal and three assists to lead the New Jersey Devils to a 6-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night.
Paul Martin also scored for the Devils, and Martin Brodeur made 19 saves to reach the 40-win mark for the eighth time. No other NHL goalie has had more than three 40-win seasons.
The Devils jumped over the Penguins and into first place in the Atlantic Division. New Jersey and Pittsburgh both have 90 points, but the Devils have one more win than the Penguins and have played one fewer game.
The Devils' dormant power-play came alive and produced New Jersey's first three goals.
The Devils grabbed the lead at 13:01 of the first period when Parise pounded home Jamie Langenbrunner's rebound for New Jersey's first man-advantage goal in seven games. The Devils failed to connect on their previous 17 power-play attempts.
Sharp stops by Brodeur at the start kept the Blue Jackets off the scoreboard. Brodeur turned aside Rick Nash's shot from the slot before making a sprawling save on Derick Brassard.
The revived power play struck again when Martin scored 1:14 into the second as the Devils grabbed a 2-0 lead. Martin fired in the rebound of Patrik Elias' shot for his second goal in four games since returning to the lineup after missing 59 game because of a broken arm.
Vermette scored at 3:40 on a slap shot from just inside the blue line that rocketed past Brodeur's glove to make it 2-1.
Kovalchuk scored the Devils' third power-play tally at 12:32, picking the short side to beat Steve Mason from the bottom of the left circle. It was his first goal in five games and sixth in 17 games with New Jersey.
Zajac scored the next two on deflections at 15:40 and 19:07 as the Devils expanded their lead to 5-1. Voracek closed out the scoring in the second period with 20 seconds remaining.
In the third, Huselius netted his fourth goal in five games 6 minutes into the period to trim the Devils' lead to 5-3. Parise snuffed out Columbus' comeback hopes with his second tally at 12:52, spinning in front of the net before flipping the puck past Mason.
NOTES: Both teams lost 1-0 on Saturday. The Devils lost at home to St. Louis while the Blue Jackets were beaten in Nashville. ... Kovalchuk flew to Florida on Sunday for the birth of his third child and then returned to New Jersey. ... It was the first showdown between Brodeur and Mason, who grew up idolizing the Devils goaltender. ... A pair of Devils defensemen reached games-played milestones: Bryce Salvador, 600, and Andy Greene, 200. ... Columbus made its first trip to Newark, becoming the last team to visit the Prudential Center. ... The Devils improved to 6-2-2 against the Blue Jackets.