Devils 2, Flyers 1, SO
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP)—For someone who is hardly a big fan of the NHL’s new shootout tiebeaker, Martin Brodeur has certainly warmed to the task nicely.
Brodeur improved to 6-1 in shootouts this season Wednesday night, stopping all three Philadelphia shots in New Jersey’s 2-1 victory.
Brodeur has allowed three goals in 26 shootout attempts, the best saves-to-goals ratio in the NHL among goalies who have faced at least 20 shots.
Even those numbers don’t get Brodeur enthused about the general concept.
“I don’t really believe in it,” he said. “(Philadelphia goalie) Bob Esche played a great game, and one great move in a skills competition and he loses a point.”
All of Brodeur’s own skills were on display in the shootout. He deflected Richards’ high shot with his glove, made a right pad save on Nedved’s low shot and forced Forsberg to shoot wide to the left.
“I’ve played enough in the NHL to know most of these guys,” he said. “Most of the time I know their tendencies. I’ve been lucky. I’ve been fortunate to make some saves and help us win some games.”
Kozlov opened the shootout with a left-right move followed by a high shot over Esche’s left shoulder. With Brodeur in the net, Zach Parise’s miss for New Jersey didn’t seem to matter.
“When you’ve got Martin Brodeur in the net, that gives you a tremendous amount of confidence,” Devils coach Lou Lamoriello said. “It puts less pressure on our shooters.”
Esche was facing his first shootout of the season, though he said he experienced it in the International Hockey League.
“I’ve said it all along, I hate the shootout and I love the shootout,” he said. “It takes the emotion out of it but it’s awesome for the fans. It really is. I would say that even if we had won. At least they don’t do it in the playoffs.”
Brodeur made 26 saves, while Esche stopped 31 shots.
Brian Savage scored the Flyers’ goal in the second period after Kozlov had put the Devils on the scoreboard in the first period.
Both teams played without leading offensive players who were injured in the Olympics. Philadelphia’s Simon Gagne, tied for the team scoring lead with 63 points, is expected to miss up to two weeks with a bone bruise in his right knee. He was hurt in Canada’s quarterfinal loss to Russia.
Patrik Elias, who has seven goals and 14 assists in 18 games since returning from hepatitis A, bruised his ribs in the Czech Republic’s 3-2 loss to Switzerland.
The Flyers somehow managed to escape unscathed from the game’s first 8 minutes when they picked up three penalties within a 2:20 span. New Jersey’s best chance came at even strength with 11:20 elapsed when Scott Gomez pounced on a rebound on the left wing but fired high and wide with an open net beckoning.
Kozlov, skating on the Devils’ first line in place of Elias, put New Jersey on the scoreboard shortly after when he took a pass from behind from the net from Brian Gionta, who had stripped the puck from Esche, and slid the puck into the unguarded net.
“The most important thing was we didn’t get frustrated when we didn’t score on the power play,” Lamoriello said. “We played the kind of game we wanted to play coming out of the break.”
The Flyers entered the game 17-8-3 on the road this season but have lost four straight road games … At 29-18-4, Brodeur is one win away from his 10th consecutive season with 30 or more wins. No other goalie in NHL history has more than eight consecutive 30-plus win seasons.