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NHL: New Jersey 3, Pittsburgh 1

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NEWARK, N.J., Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Ilya Kovalchuk and David Clarkson scored first-period goals Saturday and the New Jersey Devils went on to a 3-1 victory over Pittsburgh.

Kovalchuk notched two assists while Patrik Elias also added a pair of helpers for the Devils, who won for the ninth time in 12 games.

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Devils goalie Martin Brodeur turned aside 29 shots to collect his ninth victory in 11 starts against the Penguins.

Zach Parise added an empty-netter for New Jersey, which pulled to within 3 points of Pittsburgh for third place in the Atlantic Division.

The Pens, meanwhile, dropped a second straight contest following a four-game winning streak.

Chris Kunitz scored and Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 18 shots for the Penguins.

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