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Martin Brodeur extended an NHL record in his last start. He will now try to further his dominance at BankAtlantic Center as the New Jersey Devils wrap up a two-game trip through the state of Florida against the Panthers on Saturday.
Brodeur turned aside 28 shots in a 2-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday, reaching 30 wins for the 11th consecutive season. It was also the NHL-leading ninth shutout in just 46 starts for the veteran netminder, who is now two shy of his single-season career high of 11 established in 75 games in the 2003-04 season.
"I just want to win," said Brodeur, who has 89 career shutouts. "Every year, I go in and I want to win 30 games. That's my first goal. I'm happy that it happened so quickly. We'll move forward now."
The BankAtlantic Center has been like a second home to Brodeur, who is 14-6 with four ties, one shutout and a .925 save percentage there. Until a 4-0 loss exactly one year ago on Jan. 27, 2006, Brodeur had a 13-game unbeaten streak in Florida with 12 wins and one tie in that span.
This season, Brodeur shut out the Panthers for the fifth time in his career, 2-0 on Oct. 26, and has stopped 49 of 51 shots in winning both his starts versus Florida. The 34-year-old goaltender is 29-9 with seven ties and a .920 save percentage lifetime against the Panthers, including wins in 21 of his last 24 outings against them.
Offensively, Brian Gionta provided Brodeur with all the support he would need with a goal in the final minute of the first period. Jay Pandolfo added an empty-netter for the Devils (30-14-5), who have won five consecutive road games and are 11-1-2 in their last 14 overall.
"For me and for our defense to play tight, we have no choice," Brodeur said. "We can't let ourselves go. We don't have that room for error. I think that's the reason why we're able to get so many (shutouts). If we want to win, we need to have then some nights."
Brodeur has recorded three of his shutouts on this current road winning streak, as the Devils have outscored their opponents 12-3 in that span. The Devils also have played disciplined hockey, needing to kill off only 11 penalties in the five road victories.
Florida (18-22-10) is playing its first game since the All-Star break and trying to win consecutive games for the first time since Dec. 27 and 29. The Panthers went into the layoff after a 4-1 victory at Washington on Jan. 20, as Ed Belfour made 17 saves and Martin Gelinas scored two goals.
Jacques Martin's team has lost back-to-back home games after a season-high four-game winning streak there.
Panthers center Olli Jokinen, who has a team-high 52 points, has just six goals and 10 points in 28 lifetime games against the Devils, but he did have a goal and an assist in last year's win.
Florida is just 4-16 with two overtime losses against New Jersey since the start of the 2000-01 season.