A loss at the Olympics earned Martin Brodeur(notes) a spot on Team Canada’s bench, but the NHL’s all-time wins leader will certainly not be spending much time there down the stretch for the New Jersey Devils.
When he’s been on the ice in Calgary, he’s never been beaten.
Brodeur and the Devils look to notch back-to-back wins for the first time in nearly two months Friday night against the Flames, whose slide down the standings continued with a poor showing coming out of the Olympic break.
After losing 5-3 in the preliminary round to the United States and ceding the starting spot in Vancouver to Roberto Luongo(notes) as Canada won gold, Brodeur returned to the crease and helped the Devils to a 4-3 win at San Jose on Tuesday.
“I was happy to get back and do what I do,” Brodeur said. “I had a lot of fun at the Olympics. People always think that because I don’t play I’m not enjoying myself. I really had a good time and our country was really excited about winning the gold. But it’s over. Now it’s back to work.”
New Jersey (38-21-3) has plenty of work to do if it hopes to win the Atlantic Division after stumbling into the break on a 5-10-2 stretch. The team hasn’t won consecutive games since beating Montreal and the New York Rangers on Jan. 9 and 12.
Even Brodeur has struggled, with a 3.18 goals-against average in his last nine starts. The four-time Vezina Trophy winner will hope to fare better at Calgary, where he has two wins, three ties and a 1.33 GAA in five career appearances.
He made 30 saves in a 1-0 overtime win in New Jersey’s most recent visit on Dec. 23, 2007.
The Devils almost squandered a victory against the Sharks on Tuesday, with their 4-0 lead turning into a one-goal game midway through the third period. Coach Jacques Lemaire, however, preferred to look past the near-meltdown.
“I think we played really good,” Lemaire told the Devils’ official Web site. “I think there are a lot of positives that we had in our game tonight that we have to carry through the next one and the last 20 games that we have.”
The addition of Ilya Kovalchuk(notes) is a boost that is starting to pay dividends for New Jersey. The Devils were relatively quiet before Wednesday’s trade deadline, but they got Kovalchuk from Atlanta last month and he has seven points in seven games, including a goal and an assist Tuesday.
The Flames (30-24-9) have revamped much of their lineup with trades in the last several weeks, but they could certainly use more offensive punch after averaging 1.8 goals during a 5-12-4 stretch that dates back to early January. They’ve slipped out of playoff position in the Western Conference.
Calgary lost 4-0 at home to Minnesota on Wednesday, its fourth shutout loss in 16 games.
Miikka Kiprusoff(notes) allowed four goals on just 21 shots against the Wild. The Finn gave up four goals in the first 10:08 of his country’s 6-1 loss to the United States in the Olympic semifinals - including one by New Jersey’s Zach Parise(notes) - although Kiprusoff did bounce back to help Finland win a bronze medal.