Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Still Climbing

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Still Climbing

Article excerpt

NEWARK -- The Devils said goodbye to 2013 and finished off the first half of their season Tuesday afternoon with the kind of game they hope to play more often in the second half.

Facing a Pittsburgh Penguins team that had won nine of its previous 10 games, the Devils did what they do more often than not when Sidney Crosby & Co. visit Prudential Center -- win. Goals from Adam Henrique and Michael Ryder were just enough offense in a 2-1 victory in which the Devils utilized an unrelenting forecheck and suffocating neutral-zone play to control the puck and limit the high- powered Penguins to only 20 shots on goal.

By improving to 12-2-0 in their last 14 games against the Penguins at The Rock, the Devils climbed above the NHL's .500 line for only the second time this season with a 17-16-8 record. After starting the season 0-4-3, the only other time they were able to get above the break-even mark was at 9-8-5 after a 2-1 overtime win in Los Angeles on Nov. 21.

"It's been a battle. It's been a grind," Devils coach Pete DeBoer said. "It's a tough league and we dug ourselves a sizeable hole right off the bat and it's taken us until New Year's to dig ourselves out. Now, we have to make sure that we keep climbing, find a way to keep adding a game or two above a month as we go forward here."

That might be more difficult if left wing Patrik Elias is out for a while. Elias appeared to injure his right shoulder and/or neck when he fell into the boards 3:24 into the game.

"I don't know yet," DeBoer said when asked about Elias' condition. "I actually haven't seen him, so I'll get an update [this] morning."

Devils captain Bryce Salvador sounded optimistic after seeing Elias after the game.

"I saw him walking around and stuff like that, so I don't think it's too bad," Salvador said. "Hopefully, it's a couple of days here and maybe he's skating and he's ready to go. …

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