The celebration was modest, but the relief was more than evident after Damien Brunner finally ended his scoring slump that dated back to Oct. 26 by netting the first of two in Tuesday's disappointing loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
"It's definitely nice when you score after a stretch like that," Brunner said. "I didn't want to pass the 20-game mark. But, like I said, it's tough for us to get scored-against late in a game like that. The points were sitting there for us. We have to bounce back strong."
Brunner was just three-games away from hitting a 20-game stretch without a goal and with the way things had been going, it looked like he would have hit it.
The New Jersey Devils left-winger has found himself in and out of the lineup as of late due to his lack of production, but finally had a break-out game by scoring two goals last night.
The first of the Swiss forwards goals came early in the second period, giving the Devils a two-goal cushion on the Blue Jackets. After blowing the lead and allowing the Jackets to take the lead, Brunner would strike again at 13:59 of the final period.
Columbus' Nick Foligno would spoil Brunner's party by deflecting a pass off of his skate in Martin Brodeur's crease to regain a lead the Devils would not be able to overcome with a little over a minute left in regulation.
"We finally got a great start," Patrik Elias said following the loss. "We sensed they were a little tired after playing their last game away and we took advantage of it. But from the middle of the game on we stopped making tape-to-tape passes and we started making turnovers."
The 5-4 loss to the Blue Jackets means the Metropolitan rival has gained some ground on New Jersey and now sits just one point back of the Devils.
While Damien Brunner is happy to have lifted the monkey off of his back with his two-goal performance, Michael Ryder and Travis Zajac have also improved, scoring in each of their last two games. Ryder scored his ninth of the season and now has a goal in four of his last five. Zajac scored for the second time in as many games for his sixth of the season after finding the back of the net just 32 seconds after the first faceoff. It was the fastest goal by New Jersey to start a game this year.