No one was surprised.

On the night Devils forward Patrik Elias played in his 1,000th career game, he also rose to the occasion by scoring a goal with two assists.

"It was a great night for Patrik," coach Pete DeBoer said after the Devils' 5-2 win over the Florida Panthers tonight. "He's a great pro and in typical Elias fashion he played a great game on a big night."

He scored the Devils' second goal and then set up what turned out to be the winner by Ilya Kovalchuk in the third period.

"I was pretty excited to play this game. Even if it's your first NHL game I think the adrenalin is the same," Elias said. "I'm more calm than I was 16 years ago when I played my first one."

But he remains one of the team's top players.

"He's been doing this his whole career and every game this year, too," goalie Johan Hedberg said after the 5-2 win over the Panthers. "So I'm not surprised, but I'm happy for him."

Kovalchuk, who scored two goals in the game (one into an empty net) said of Elias: "He's an all-time Devil and he deserves everything he gets."