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At just 34 years old, Martin Brodeur has been a dominating force in goal for the New Jersey Devils throughout his 14-year NHL career. The St. Louis Blues certainly can attest to that.
Coming off his league-leading seventh shutout, Brodeur will try to lead the Atlantic Division-leading Devils to their fourth win in a row as they meet the Blues on Thursday.
Brodeur is 9-3-0 with two ties, a 2.52 goals-against average and one shutout lifetime against the Blues (14-21-7), but has had great success against them recently. The eight-time All-Star has won his last five starts, allowing just nine goals and has been nearly as unbeatable at Continental Airlines Arena.
The two-time Vezina Trophy winner has won his last four home starts versus St. Louis, giving up a total of four goals. Brodeur recorded one of his 87 career shutouts with a 28-save performance in a 2-0 home victory on Dec. 10, 2002, in the last meeting between teams in New Jersey.
"I've always said that we've got the best goaltender in the league and he's proven that over the years," Devils coach Claude Julien said after Brodeur made 28 saves in a 3-0 road win over the Canadiens on Saturday. "He's a great team player, he's a great leader in our dressing room, and he's very modest with everything he does and I think that's probably the key to his success right now."
A Montreal native, Brodeur needs four more shutouts to tie his single-season best. He had a league-leading 11 in 75 games in 2003-04, but just five in 73 games following the lockout.
Brian Gionta posted his second straight two-goal game for New Jersey (25-13-4), which has a six-point lead over the second-place New York Rangers. After failing to record a point in seven straight at home from Oct. 26-Nov. 17, Gionta has had points in eight of 10 games since, totaling four goals and five assists.
The improving Blues beat Columbus 4-3 in a shootout Tuesday for their seventh win in 10 games. Bill Guerin, Keith Tkachuk and Martin Rucinsky scored in regulation for St. Louis, which rallied from three one-goal deficits.
"We obviously played hard in the third period and overtime," said Lee Stempniak, who had two assists and added the winning goal in the shootout. "If you're coming from behind like that, you're going to get lucky sometimes. If you try to do it all the time, it's not going to work for you."
The right wing has three goals and five assists during a career-best seven-game points streak. Stempniak also has 13 goals and 13 assists in 42 games this season after totaling 14 goals and 13 assists in 57 games as a rookie in 2005-06.
Guerin, who scored his team-leading 18th goal, has six goals and three assists in a four-game points streak against the Devils. New Jersey selected Guerin fifth overall in the 1989 draft, and was a member of its 1994-95 championship team.