Brodeur blanks Panthers for 108th career shutout
|Palmieri notched an assist in his NHL debut.
The Devils put their losing streak behind them thanks to yet another shutout from Martin Brodeur
On Wednesday, Brodeur made 22 saves to record his League-leading 30th win and seventh shutout of the season as Jersey's Team topped the visiting Florida Panthers, 2-0.
scored his 14th goal of the season, and Dean McAmmond added an empty-netter in the final second of regulation. The Devils snapped their three-game skid by capturing their seventh win in their last eight home games.
They got help from youngsters Patrick Davis
and Nick Palmieri
, who impressed in their first game since being called up from Lowell (AHL) on Tuesday. In his NHL debut, Palmieri assisted on Zajac's goal for his first career point.
Brodeur and the Devils (33-14-1) rebounded from Monday's loss at Long Island with the type of strong all-around game that has them four points ahead of Pittsburgh for first place in the Atlantic Division.
"I wish he would do this every night," head coach Jacques Lemaire said of Brodeur. "It would make my job a lot easier."
Brodeur outdueled Panthers netminder Tomas Vokoun, who finished with 30 saves. He extended his NHL record with his 108th career shutout, and has collected five in his last 14 starts.
"I play the game – I don't play to shut anybody down," Brodeur said. "I play the game to win the game, sometimes it just happens. Definitely, things come in bunches like a goal scorer. They come quick and fast and we'll take it, that's for sure."
Brodeur was in perfect position to stop Gregory Campbell's one-timer from below the right circle 2:05 into the second period, then made a terrific glove save on Rostislav Olesz' slapper from the top of the right circle at 8:57.
He caught a break on a Florida power play early in the third. Cory Stillman faked a shot at the right circle and set up Olesz, who pushed the puck underneath Brodeur's stick paddle and back across the net mouth at 1:40.
"I'm the one who poked the puck to Stillman," Brodeur said. "He comes in and makes a fake and a pass – I've got to respect his shot, especially him having that great of a shot. He makes a good play, and I just dove across. I just couldn't believe it. It wasn't even close; wasn't like he hit the post. It just went wide. I definitely felt really lucky on that one."
In a game that was scoreless for the first 38:30, it's reassuring to have Brodeur capable of making one goal enough to win.
"It always is," Zach Parise
said. "I thought we did a good job of limiting their shots, and when they did get chances, he was always there."
Zajac opened the scoring with 1:30 left in the second. He notched his fifth goal in eight games by blasting a rolling puck between Vokoun's pads.
"We had a lot of shots on net," Zajac said. "We were throwing shots from all over the place, and it was just a matter of time. All it took was one."
Brodeur took care of the rest.
"It's every second game he's getting a shutout now – it's pretty amazing," Zajac said. "Again tonight, he was outstanding making the first save, and I think our D did a great job of not allowing any shots after that. He's been like that all year for us, and it makes us play with a lot more confidence when he's like that."
Zajac's goal was one to remember for Palmieri, who earned his first NHL point with the secondary assist. He also matched Niclas Bergfors with a game-high five shots on goal.
"Obviously getting that first point is pretty big, and having it in the first game is pretty special," said Palmieri, whose parents, grandparents and younger brother made it to the game from their home near Utica, N.Y. "I'm just really thankful for the opportunity that I've been awarded from the organization."
Palmieri began the game on a line with Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond
and McAmmond, but it wasn't long before Lemaire tried him with Zajac and Parise. The trio clicked.
"He's a good player," Zajac said. "He's smart with the puck and he's not afraid to make plays. It was pretty seamless playing with him. It kind of felt like we've been playing with him for a while."
After Florida had pulled Vokoun for an extra skater, Jamie Langenbrunner
was whistled for hooking Dennis Seidenberg in a race for the puck toward the empty net. The Devils fended off the 6-on-4 power play for the final 1:23 of regulation.
Jay Pandolfo hit the post with 20.7 seconds to go and McAmmond's fifth of the year iced the game with a second left.
Langenbrunner played in his 500th game as a Devil. … Rod Pelley
and Vladimir Zharkov
were out of the lineup with lower body injuries. Andrew Peters was a healthy scratch. … Florida's winning streak was snapped at three. … Devils host Montreal Friday, then visit the Island on Saturday.
• Brodeur said reaching 30 wins was significant: "It's always my first goal when I start the season, looking at 30 wins. I know that not a lot of goalies are able to get there in a full season, so when you get there, you're doing well. Now we're going to look at 35."
• Parise was impressed by both Davis (22 shifts, 13:34) and Palmieri (20 shifts, 12:43, 0:59 PP): "I thought they fit into the lines and played well. They played a lot, too. The played regular shifts and I thought they both did a great job. They made good plays with the puck."
It wasn't that long ago that Parise, a fifth-year player, was getting his first taste of the NHL.
"Travis and I remember how it is," he said. "You just try to make them feel comfortable on the bench, talk to them on the bench, make it fun and make them relaxed. I thought both of them were really relaxed, especially Nick for it being his first game."
• Palmieri has followed the advice of Lowell head coach John MacLean, who has encouraged him to shoot more: "There were chances that I had when I was open and that was in my mind the whole game. Every chance I got to shoot, I put it on net."
Palmieri nearly had his first NHL goal on a first-period power play, but put the puck wide after Brian Rolston
's blast caught the left post.
"I think it hit off the goalie and bounced up a little bit," he said. "I kind of, out of reflex, batted it down and it bounced through his five-hole and just missed or hit the post. I thought I might have one there."
• Lemaire still sees room for improvement. The power play misfired twice to extend the drought to 21 straight chances without a goal.
"We still have a long ways to go," he said. "I think it's a much better team effort. I think the guys were about 80 percent of what we can do. We can play a lot better than we did tonight."
|Three star selections