Elias scored the game-winner on a nice setup from Gomez with 7:40 remaining Saturday night to lead New Jersey to a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Devils' home opener.
Devils coach Pat Burns took Elias off the line centered by Joe Nieuwendyk in the third period and put him with Gomez. They clicked immediately.
"I've played with him in the past,'' Elias said. "It's a little different to get used to him. With him, you have to slow down.''
Gomez, who had two assists, likes to hold the puck longer than most centers. He held the puck long enough to freeze the Blue Jackets' defense and goalie Marc Denis before sliding the puck across the slot to Elias for the deciding goal.
"That was the first shift that they put us together,'' Elias
said. "You could see that we had something going there. We had a
couple of good chances right away.''
Burns got the result he was seeking.
"Sometimes things happen in the game when you make a change
like that,'' he said. "It sparks something.''
Sergei Brylin and Mike Danton also scored for New Jersey, which opened the season with consecutive wins for the first time since 1995.
Grand-Pierre pulled Columbus even at 2-2 at 5:02 of the third. With the teams skating four-on-four, the Blue Jackets' defenseman split the Devils' defensive pair of Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko to wrist the puck past Martin Brodeur.
Brylin snapped a 1-1 tie 58 seconds into the second period.
Gomez, working deep in the Columbus zone, fed the puck to Brylin at
the left faceoff circle. Brylin took two strides toward the
Columbus net and whipped the puck past Denis to give the Devils
their first lead of the game.
Pronger and Danton exchanged goals in the first period.
Pronger gave Columbus the early lead with a power-play goal at
6:09. Jaroslav Spacek unloaded a hard shot from the right point and
Pronger backhanded the rebound past Brodeur.
Danton countered for the Devils with his first NHL goal at
13:49. Danton deked around Grand-Pierre to flip the puck over
The Devils went 0-for-9 on the power play and are scoreless in
14 attempts to start the season. The effective penalty killing was
one of the positives for Columbus.
"We were busy,'' Blue Jackets coach Dave King said of his
penalty killers. "We did a lot of it, which is a concern. We did a
real good job in that area of the game.''
The Devils' early season schedule is not very stressful.
They don't play again until Friday, a home game against the
Nashville Predators. The Nashville game will be only their third in
nine days. ... The Blue Jackets are busy. They open the season with
five games in the first 10 days. ... The Devils, who began last
season 0-3-0-1, are hoping for a quicker start this season as the
Columbus game started a stretch in which five of New Jersey's six
opponents missed the playoffs last season.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Arena: IZOD Center Location: East Rutherford, New Jersey
Referees: Eric Furlatt, Kevin Pollock Linesmen: Pat Dapuzzo, Derek Nansen
Attendance: 17,098 (89.8% full)
Team Stat Comparison
Power Play Goals
Power Play Opportunities
Shots on Goal
Sean Pronger (1)
(Power Play) Assist: Jaroslav Spacek
Goal scored by MIKE DANTON assisted by Turner Stevenson and Brian Rafalski
Sergei Brylin (1)
Assists: Scott Gomez, Jeff Friesen
Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre (1)
Assist: Lasse Pirjeta
Patrik Elias (1)
Assists: Scott Gomez, Colin White