Scott Clemmensen, a minor leaguer for most of his career, wondered if his NHL chance would ever come. Finally given an opportunity, Clemmensen seized it after New Jersey No. 1 goalie Martin Brodeur sustained a biceps injury that will sideline him until March.
Clemmensen had another strong game, making 26 saves, and Travis Zajac scored the first goal as the Devils kept rolling with a 4-1 win over the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins last night. Clemmensen improved to 7-1 in his last eight starts.
"I saw a lot of guys I played against in the American Hockey League get the chance," Clemmensen said. "Comparing myself to them, I always knew I could do the same, if I was given the opportunity. I waited a long time for this, but that's why you work on your game in case something like this happens."
Clemmensen has taken the sting out of Brodeur's injury. "It's been great. He's a guy that has paid his dues," Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner. said. "It's great to see him get the opportunity and run with it."
The Penguins' losing streak reached three as they were beaten in regulation in New Jersey for the first time in seven games (5-1-1).
It was another frustrating game for captain Sidney Crosby and the rest of the Penguins, who had their chances against Clemmensen. "We played a pretty decent hockey game but we got a few bad breaks on both sides of the puck," Crosby said. "They got a few bounces on their goals and we hit a few posts. The effort was right, in the way we worked and the way we played, but we just didn't get any results."
In last night's games:
* At Atlanta, Scott Gomez scored 15 seconds into overtime and the New York Rangers snapped a two-game losing streak with a 3-2 victory over the struggling Thrashers. Gomez took advantage of goaltender Johan Hedberg's mishandling of the puck, and put in a backhander for his third winning goal this season and his fifth tally overall.
* At Buffalo, Thomas Vanek scored twice, including his league-leading 22nd goal, in the Sabres' 4-2 comeback win over Tampa Bay, the Lightning's ninth straight defeat.
* At Washington, Capitals goalie Brent Johnson shut down the Eastern Conference's top offense, and Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Alexandre Giroux scored, leading the Caps to a 3-1 win over the Boston Bruins.
* At Detroit, Nicklas Lidstrom scored 3:50 into overtime to complete Detroit's comeback from a two-goal deficit and lift the Red Wings to a 4-3 win over the Calgary Flames.
* At Chicago, Cristobal Huet stopped 23 shots to earn his first shutout with the Blackhawks and Patrick Kane scored an early goal as Chicago beat the Ottawa Senators, 2-0.
* At Anaheim, Teemu Selanne got one of his two assists on the game-winner scored by Brendan Morrison and Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 26 saves as the Ducks turned back the St. Louis Blues, 4-2.