NEWARK, N.J. (AP) – John Madden and Sergei Brylin scored 1:10 apart during New Jersey’s three-goal second period, and the Devils took advantage of backup goalie Thomas Greiss and beat the San Jose Sharks 3-2 Wednesday night.

During a rare night off for San Jose ironman Evgeni Nabokov, the Devils scored three goals on 10 shots in the pivotal period and won their third straight and fifth in six games (5-0-1). They were outshot 32-20 and went without a power-play chance until the third.

San Jose has hit the skids and dropped its season-worst fifth in a row overall (0-4-1), including the first three of an eight-game Eastern road swing. The Sharks were 16-3-2 away from home on Jan. 1, but have gone 1-5-1 on the road since – losing four straight.

After Jonathan Cheechoo gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead with a power-play tally in the opening minute of the second, New Jersey stormed back on goals from Zach Parise, Madden and Brylin in a 10-minute span.

San Jose cut the deficit to 3-2 with 6:06 left on Kyle McLaren’s goal that deflected in off the stick of Devils forward Brian Gionta.

Martin Brodeur earned his NHL-best 33rd victory.

Greiss made his third career appearance and second start in place of Nabokov, who sat for the second time in San Jose’s 60 games. Greiss had a brief relief outing in the Sharks’ 3-2 loss Monday to the New York Islanders after a shot broke the cage on Nabokov’s mask and bloodied his nose.

Nabokov came back for the third period, but couldn’t protect a 2-0 lead. With the Sharks playing their fourth game in five days Thursday in Philadelphia, Nabokov likely would’ve had a day off anyway.

San Jose center Patrick Marleau, the subject of trade rumors as Tuesday’s NHL trade deadline approaches, rejoined the Sharks lineup after missing four games due to a groin injury. He had an assist, but it wasn’t enough.

Shortly after Parise tied it 7:56 into the second, Madden tucked a shot in at the right post with 3:04 left to put New Jersey ahead. Brylin squeezed a shot under Greiss’ arm, off a pass from Jay Pandolfo, at 18:06 to make it 3-1.

Notes: Devils D Colin White sat out with an upper body injury sustained Monday. Vitaly Vishnevski, scratched for that game, rejoined the lineup. … Pandolfo’s assist gave him 200 NHL points. … Greiss made his NHL debut with an overtime loss at Anaheim on Jan. 13, the only other game Nabokov missed. … Joe Thornton took the only penalty for the Sharks, who were 1-for-4 on the power play.

AP-ES-02-20-08 2132EST

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