Devils 4, Flyers 1
PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Martin Brodeur keeps moving up on the career victories list and moving New Jersey up in the Eastern Conference standings.
Scott Gomez, John Madden, Jason Wiemer and Sergei Brylin scored goals and Brodeur broke a tie for fourth place on the NHL’s career victories list in the Devils’ 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.
Brodeur has 438 victories, one more than Hall of Famer Jacques Plante.
“That’s a pretty great accomplishment, I’m pretty excited about it,” Brodeur said. “Now I’ve got three more guys in front me. Definitely, it’s a goal of mine to try to get as high as I possibly can. Being in New Jersey helps me a great deal.”
Brodeur, who made 33 saves, also won 35 games for the ninth straight season — no other NHL goalie ever recorded more than three straight 35-plus win seasons.
“The team has the confidence to throw me in the net every night and that makes it a lot easier when you know you’re going to get over 65 starts every year,” he said.
Trying to gain ground and separate themselves from Montreal and Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference playoff standings, the Devils got goals only 1:20 apart in the second period to propel them to their first three-game winning streak since winning nine straight in late January.
New Jersey also won consecutive games in regulation for the first since early February. The other two wins in this winning streak came against Ottawa and Buffalo, making it wins against three teams ahead of the Devils in the Eastern Conference standings.
“We’re excited about the way things are going right now,” Wiemer said.
Simon Gagne scored the only goal for the Flyers, who lost their second straight game. Gagne, who leads the Flyers with 42 goals, was shaken up in the third and left the ice with cuts on his nose and forehead. He returned on his next shift.
The Flyers wasted a valuable opportunity to gain ground on the idle New York Rangers in the Atlantic. The Devils are only five points behind the Flyers in fifth place in the East with two more games left this season between them.
“It doesn’t help our case, definitely not,” said Peter Forsberg, who had his 54th assist. “We’re falling behind and losing and not getting the points we should.”
With neither team getting off many quality shots early in a tight, physical game, New Jersey broke through against rookie goalie Antero Niittymaki late in the second.
The Devils went ahead 2-0 with 5:53 left in the period when the puck simply rolled through Niittymaki’s legs for an easy 27th goal of the season for Gomez.
Then Brian Gionta, who was originally credited with Gomez’s goal and settled for an assist, came streaking down the left side and left a nice drop pass for Wiemer, who scored his second goal from the faceoff circle for a 3-0 lead.
Brodeur made the lead stand up from there, allowing only Gagne’s power-play goal early in the third.
“He loves the game, he has God-given talent and we’re just glad he’s in our pipes,” said Devils coach Lou Lamoriello said.
Making his fifth start in six games, Niittymaki had 27 saves. He also allowed Brylin’s 13th goal when he knocked in a rebound shot late in the game.
The Devils snapped a five-game losing streak in Philadelphia.
“The puck was in their zone a lot. We were one chance and out,” Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We didn’t have any second or third opportunities.”
There was plenty of pushing and shoving early in the game, with a couple of scrums in front of New Jersey’s net. The Devils went up 1-0 thanks to a two-man rush when Madden took a pass from Marshall and knocked it in for his 15th goal.
Flyers C Michal Handzus played in his 500th NHL game. … Madden scored his 100th career goal … Wiemer scored for the first time since Dec. 29 against Minnesota. … Flyers C Petr Nedved left the game in the second period with a strained groin. … Patrick Roy is the league’s career wins leader with 551. … Gionta has 32 assists.