You might not want to toss NHL dirt on the career grave of New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur just yet.
After the future Hall of Famer was chased from Game 3 after surrendering three straight goals to the Florida Panthers, the talk once again started that Brodeur, who is about to turn 40, was no longer an elite goaltender.
Then, with the first-round series basically on the line, Brodeur stopped 26 shots and pitched his 24th playoff shutout, passing Patrick Roy to become No. 1 on that list, too, as the Devils evened the series with a 4-0 home win.
That brings the series down to a best-of-three, with Game 5 Saturday night in Florida. And if the Devils again get this Brodeur, they can think about winning this series. The Brodeur of Game 3? Not so much.
"There (are) always going to be critics," New Jersey captain Zach Parise said. "We have all the confidence in the world in him. After last game, I'm sure there (were) going to be people saying whatever they want to say and we don't care. He doesn't care. But I've seen it for the last seven years, and he's always responded."
This was a 1-0 game through two periods, with Parise scoring in the first. But right wing Steve Bernier, center Travis Zajac and right wing Ilya Kovalchuk scored in a span of 6 1/2 minutes early in the third period to break it open against old friend Scott Clemmenson.
"Marty made some big saves and was good. . . . They were desperate but we're going home, where two out of the next three games will take place," Florida's Stephen Weiss said. "We knew (Brodeur) would be ready to go (Thursday), and he made good saves when he had to. Now we have to find a way to get some past him."
Coach Pete DeBoer said putting Brodeur back in after the shaky Game 3 was a no-brainer.
"It wasn't really a decision," DeBoer said. "I knew when I took him out last game that I was going to start him again. He's been our go-to guy the entire second half of the year, and he's played exceptional for us."
Said Brodeur, who also had his second assist of the series, the 10th playoff assist of his career (to go with one goal): "It's kind of nice to get back at it and play well. I looked closely at what happened in Game 3 and I felt pretty good about myself getting back in there. I worked hard yesterday in practice just to make sure there was no doubt in my mind that I was still able to stop the puck, and I was able to, so I felt good today the way I played."