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Devils Win Opener, 2-1

David Clarkson’s goal at 8:17 of the third period sent the New Jersey Devils to a 2-1 season-opening win over the New York Islanders on Saturday.

Patrik Elias #26 of the New Jersey Devils reacts to the game winning goal
Patrik Elias #26 of the New Jersey Devils reacts to the game winning goal (Andy Marlin/Getty Images)

Travis Zajac also scored for New Jersey. Martin Brodeur stopped 18 shots to increase his NHL wins record to 657.

Travis Hamonic had New York’s goal, a power-play score at 7:12 of the third. Evgeni Nabokov made 26 saves for the Islanders.

Islanders coach Jack Capuano missed game “due to medical reasons.”

The effects of the 119-day lockout and compacted training camp were evident in the season opener for both teams.

Emotion was decidedly lacking save for two brief instances, and passes and shots were not as crisp as they would be at the same point in an 82-game season.

On the play that led to Zajac’s goal. New Jersey took advantage of a bad line change by New York with a 3-on-1 break, and Ilya Kovalchuk feathered a cross-ice pass to Zajac, who lifted the puck over Nabokov’s glove 14:01 into the second period for the game’s first goal.

However, the Devils could not increase their lead. And it cost them when Hamonic’s slap shot goal 7:12 into the third tied the game at 1-1.

Clarkson broke the tie just 1:05 later when a screened shot from the half boards eluded Nabokov.

Outside of Nabokov, John Tavares was New York’s best player. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 draft was able to skate and stickhandle through New Jersey’s defense, but the Devils clogged the middle of the ice limiting offensive chances.

As a result, New York struggled to test Brodeur. His toughest saves occurred in the third period.

He sprawled onto the ice to take away a shooting lane from New York right wing Michael Grabner seconds into the third.

Later, he went out of the crease to take away a point-blank chance for Islanders left wing Matt Moulson, and his glove save on a Hamonic drive with 4:14 was New York’s best chance to tie.

Note: Stefan Matteau, the 28th overall pick in last June’s draft made his NHL debut for the Devils. He was on the fourth line alongside Jacob Josefson and Cam Janssen.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved)

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