New Jersey 1, Detroit 0

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EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker)—Once again, Martin Brodeur protected the slimmest of leads for the New Jersey Devils.

Brodeur grabbed a share of the league lead with his sixth shutout and defenseman Scott Niedermayer scored a controversial power-play goal early in the third period as the Devils held on for a 1-0 victory over the sputtering Detroit Red Wings.

Four of Brodeur’s shutouts this season have been 1-0 victories. He faced just 16 shots in this one - none in the first 8 1/2 minutes and just three in the entire third period.

But the All-Star came up big in the second, kicking out a point-blank shot by defenseman Jason Woolley with 9:46 to go and sliding across the crease to stop a one-time blast by Brett Hull, who again was denied his 700th career goal.

“He hit it right in the middle of my body,” Brodeur said. “I didn’t even know it was Hull. I just slid across to make the save.”

“It kind of rolled on me, but I hit it pretty good,” said Hull, who has gone three games since his 699th goal. “Marty made a good save. He’s a great goalie.”

Moments before Hull’s shot, Sergei Fedorov flicked a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle off the near goalpost. That was as close as the defending Stanley Cup champions came to scoring against Brodeur, who ranks third among active goaltenders with 61 career shutouts.

“It doesn’t matter (that it was 1-0),” Brodeur said. “Any shutout is fun, but definitely against a team that’s got a lot of firepower and a lot of talent, it’s nice to be able to shut them down. The team played really well in front of me and made my life a lot easier.”

Manny Legace matched Brodeur until early in the third period.

Just 38 seconds after the Red Wings were penalized for having too many men on the ice, Niedermayer ripped a one-timer from the blue line for his eighth goal of the season and third game-winner.

“I just tried to get it past the forward who was on top of me, and I don’t know what happened after that,” Niedermayer said.

Legace protested and replays showed New Jersey’s Patrik Elias hooked the goaltender just as the blast by Niedermayer eluded him.

“He came across and hooked my stick on the way through,” said Legace, who made 28 saves. “They’re trying to protect the goalies, but they can’t call interference on a simple play like that. … I don’t think (Elias) did it on purpose, probably not. But it doesn’t matter, it’s still interference.”

Legace was not the only Red Wing who had problems with the officiating. Hull could not believe his team received a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty in the third period of a scoreless game.

“That was the worst call I’ve ever seen in my life,” Hull said. “What a terrible way to lose a game. This is the worst call. He maybe has one foot on the ice, but definitely the other was on the bench. It’s just a farce. They don’t know what they’re doing out there.”

For the Devils, it was revenge for a 3-2 overtime loss at Detroit on November 27 in which John Madden’s apparent game-winner was nullified when the video replay official ruled he kicked it in the net.

“Anytime you play the defending Stanley Cup champions and beat them, it’s great,” New Jersey center Scott Gomez said. “We definitely wanted to get ‘em back after that last one.”

The Devils had a 9-5 edge in shots in the first period and nearly took the lead, but Madden put a rebound off the right post with 8:20 left. Four minutes later, Brodeur stopped Kris Draper on a shorthanded 2-on-1.

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Goalie Team Shot Save
Martin Brodeur StL 16 16