Devils left wing Zach Parise was involved in the first fight of his NHL career in the third period of tonight's 2-1 overtime win over the Tampa Bay Lightning at Prudential Center.
Parise also scored a goal, but fell an assist short of a Gordie Howe hat trick (goal, assist, fight). He drove to the net on Patrik Elias' winner with 57.9 seconds left in overtime, but never touched the puck on the play, so he didn't get an assist.
"I wish," he said.
Elias' goal was his third in overtime this season and the 14th OT winner of his career, moving him within one of the NHL record shared by Mats Sundin and Jaromir Jagr. Elias tied the NHL single-season record by scoring four OT winners in 2003-04. The Devils have won six games in OT this season and he has either scored or assisted on the winning goal in five of them.
Parise's fight came 3:47 into the third period against Tampa Bay defenseman Dan Boyle. Parise actually inadvertantly started the altercation by kicking Boyle's left skate out from under him in the right corner.
"If I did, I didn't try," Parise said. "I wasn't trying to slew foot him or anything. I was just going for the puck. We got back in front of the net and he tried to slew foot me and he got me in the face, so it just escalated from there."
Parise said he had not been in a fight since midget. "First and probably last for a while," he said. "I don't see it happening again anytime soon. It was all kind of a blur when it happened...It was fun. Something you've got to do."
Although Boyle pulled his jersey over his head, Parise handled himself pretty well. Both players landed some punches, but no big blows.
"I was proud of him to batlle like that," Devils coach Brent Sutter said. "It just the way Zach competes and plays. He never backs down and I thought he handled himself very well."
On a night when the Devils took back first place in the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division, there was some bad news. Defenseman Colin White sat out the third period with what he called, "general upper body soreness." White said he had the wind knocked out of him on a hit into the right corner by Tampa Bay's Junior Lessard with 6:19 left in the second period.
White finished the period, but did not return for the third. Neither White nor Sutter were sure if he would make the trip to Toronto for Saturday night's game.