Devils 3, Flyers 0
Brodeur stopped 22 shots for his 77th career shutout and the Devils scored two power-play goals in a 3-0 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday night.
Brodeur, in his 13th season with New Jersey, broke a tie with former Chicago star Tony Esposito for seventh place on the NHL’s career shutout list and moved two ahead of Toronto’s Ed Belfour for first place among active goalies.
Brodeur, who beat Florida 3-0 on Jan. 3 for his only other shutout of the season, helped the Devils win their fourth straight game, their longest winning streak of the season. Before the streak, the Devils had lost 11 of 14 games.
“It was vintage Devils hockey,” said center Scott Gomez, who scored the game’s final goal in the third period. “Four lines were playing great, Marty was seeing the puck and special teams were right there.”
New Jersey improved to 6-5 since president and general manager Lou Lamoriello stepped behind the bench as interim coach following Larry Robinson’s resignation.
The win moved into New Jersey (20-18-5) into a tie for eighth place in the Eastern Conference playoff race with Tampa Bay.
The Flyers had their best chances in the first period when Mike Richards hit the post with Brodeur on the ice, and Branko Radivojevic missed high on an unobstructed shot from 5 feet in front of the goal.
After that, the Devils, playing like they did when they used to dominate the Flyers earlier in Brodeur’s career, clamped down on Philadelphia (27-9-6), which had earned at least a point in 17 of its last 19 games and had not lost in regulation since falling to Vancouver on Dec. 15.
“When you play a team like this, it’s the first team to crack, and it was us tonight,” Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said. “Once they got the lead, they were able to sit on it. I don’t think we played with the emotional level that we have at times. A lot of that is New Jersey. They play a very methodical game and they take the emotion out of it.”
Brodeur has struggled along with the rest of the Devils this season as they have dealt with the retirement of defenseman Scott Stevens and the loss of defenseman Scott Niedermayer through free agency. Brodeur’s goals-against average before Monday was 2.86, significantly above his career mark of 2.20.
Against a familiar foe, the old form returned.
“In the old days we used to be like that, but it’s been different for us, definitely,” Brodeur said. “We had a whole day off (Sunday) and only saw each other for about 45 minutes this morning. But I think everybody deep down knew that it was the Flyers coming in and we needed our ‘A’ game.”
The Devils got another boost from Patrik Elias, who assisted on the goals by Parise and Gomez to give him at least one point in all four games since his return from hepatitis.
Late in the first period, Elias gained control at the Philadelphia blue line and flipped the puck to Brian Gionta in the middle of the zone. The speedy winger skated in alone on Antero Nittymaki and had his initial shot stopped, but chased the puck down behind the goal. His pass found Parise in front and the rookie one-timed it in at 14:47.
Gomez added his 17th goal of the season midway through the third period, taking a pass from Elias in transition and flipping a wrist shot past Nittymaki.
Parise’s goal broke an eight-game goal drought. It was his second goal in his last 17 games … The Flyers have been held to fewer than 20 shots just once this season. … Terry Sawchuk is the NHL career leader with 103 shutouts.