PLAYOFF SERIES: Eastern Conference quarterfinal; Devils lead 1-0.
The Devils hope to take a two-games-to-none lead in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series when they face the Boston Bruins in Game 2.
While Brodeur’s goaltending figures to be a huge advantage for New Jersey in this series, he didn’t need to be spectacular in the Devils’ 2-1 victory Wednesday.
Brodeur stopped all 18 shots he faced over the first two periods and finished with 26 saves, improving his career postseason record to 68-48.
During the regular season, New Jersey had a league-leading 16 wins when scoring two goals or fewer.
“We’re used to playing tight games, we’ve been playing them all year and we’ve prepared for it in the playoffs,” Brodeur said. “We definitely played a solid game and we got the first goal, which is always nice.”
Steve Shields, 9-15 in the playoffs, was almost as good as Brodeur despite allowing two goals on 28 shots. Although he got a strong performance from his goalie, Bruins coach Mike O’Connell would not commit to starting Shields in Game 2.
“We’ll watch the tape,” O’Connell said. “We’ll look at practice today, then we’ll make a determination after that.”
Bruins center Joe Thornton was impressed with Shields’ performance.
“A lot of people have been talking about Brodeur, and we know how good he is,” Thornton said. “But we’re excited for our goaltender as well. If he keeps up what he’s doing, we’re going to be just fine.”
Jamie Langenbrunner, eager to atone for a poor performance in last season’s first-round loss to Carolina, scored both goals for the Devils.
Langenbrunner didn’t have a goal in the Devils’ surprising loss to the Hurricanes last year, finishing with one assist in five games in what turned out to be an embarrassing exit for New Jersey.
“I was awful,” Langenbrunner said. “I didn’t do what I was supposed to do. There was some disappointment in that. I think this year, you want to come in and make up for it. None of us had the playoff we wanted to last year. You don’t ever want to lose in the first round. We all have something to prove.”
“They reacted pretty good so we’ll have to see what happens,” Thornton said. “It’s going to be a long series and we’re just going to have to wait for our chances and keep on doing our thing. We have to keep shooting pucks, put some big bodies in front of the net, that’s the only way you’re going to get to Brodeur.”
New Jersey may have suffered a costly injury Wednesday. Center Scott Gomez, who had 14 points in the Devils’ final 14 games, played just three shifts after sustaining whiplash in a first-period collision with teammate Grant Marshall. His status for Friday is uncertain.
The series shifts to Boston for Game 3 on Sunday afternoon.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Bruins - 87 points; 7th seed. Devils - 108 points; 2nd seed.
PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Bruins - Berard, 1 goal; Thornton and Murray, 1 assist; three with 1 point; Ian Moran, 4 PIM. Devils - Langenbrunner, 2 goals and 2 points; three with 1 assist; four with 2 PIM.
PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Bruins - Power play: 0.0 percent (0 for 2). Penalty killing: 100 percent (3 for 3). Devils - Power play: 0.0 percent (0 for 3). Penalty killing: 100 percent (2 for 2).
GOALTENDERS: Bruins - Shields (0-1, 2.03 GAA); Hackett (no appearances). Devils - Brodeur (1-0, 1.00); Corey Schwab (no appearances).
REGULAR SEASON SERIES: Devils, 2-1-1. Brodeur was outstanding in three of four starts against the Bruins, stopping 85 of 88 shots in two wins and one tie. He was pulled in a 4-3 loss at Boston on March 13 after yielding four goals on 20 shots.