Martin Brodeur shut the door in the shootout to secure an important win for the Devils in Minnesota.
newjerseydevils.com (March 13) – At this time of year, every point is precious.
After falling behind 2-0 in the first period, the Devils might have been satisfied to have squeezed one point out of Thursday's meeting with the Wild in Minnesota.
Instead, New Jersey got 34 saves from Martin Brodeur and the shootout-deciding goal from captain Jamie Langenbrunner to depart St. Paul with a 4-3 victory and two points.
Langenbrunner potted the only tally of the shootout, stuffing his third-round attempt around Nicklas Backstrom's left pad. Former Devil Brian Rolston missed the net with a slapshot in Minnesota's final chance.
Brodeur's excellence helped New Jersey survive 1:08 of a penalty kill to open the extra session. The netminder made five overtime saves in his 957th game to give the Devils a chance win in the shootout.
Brodeur (39-22-5) made a glove stop on Wild sniper Marian Gaborik at 1:15, then denied Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Mikko Koivu with under two minutes remaining to carry New Jersey through the overtime period.
The reigning Vezina Trophy winner followed that up by stoning Pavol Demitra and Brett Burns in the shootout before Rolston's chance missed. Brodeur now sits one victory shy of his NHL-record seventh 40-win season – no goaltender in history has had more than three.
Dainius Zubrus added a goal and an assist, while Brian Gionta scored to become the second Devil this season to reach the 20-goal plateau.
The Devils (41-24-6) moved a point ahead of the three-team logjam that occupied second place in the Eastern Conference. Ottawa's win over Montreal on Thursday left the Senators, Canadiens and Penguins tied with 87 points. Having taken two of three on their current trip, the Devils wrap it up in a Saturday matinee at Colorado. The club then closes out the month with four of six at Prudential Center beginning Wednesday against the Rangers.
For a second straight game, the Devils allowed the first goal. But after Stephane Veilleux's ninth made it 1-0 at 3:26 of the first, Brent Burns struck to drop New Jersey into a 2-0 hole.
Burns added to Minnesota's lead with his 13th from Bouchard and Koivu. Burns moved down to the right circle where he one-timed Bouchard's pass from behind the net at 12:58.
As bad as the two-goal deficit was, Brodeur prevented it from getting any worse. He broke up Rolston's partial breakaway with 11:28 left in the first, getting some help from a backchecking Patrik Elias, who tied up Veilleux on the rebound.
Vitaly Vishnevski's second goal of the season, and first goal in 32 games, finally put the Devils on the board at 5:43 of the second period.
Vishnevski, who had been a healthy scratch in nine straight contests before returning to Thursday's lineup, slapped a floater from the left point that beat Backstrom under the crossbar.
Vishnevski's tally was the first by a Devils defenseman since Feb. 18 – a span of 10 games – and represented the first New Jersey goal since Zach Parise's winner Saturday night in Toronto.
With the deficit cut in half, John Madden generated the chance that led to the Devils tying the game at 2-2.
Madden shook off Nick Schultz at the right circle in the Minnesota end, and whipped a centering feed for Jay Pandolfo that found Gionta for a tap-in goal into the empty side at 13:46.
Gionta's marker was his 14th point in the last 20 games (7g-7a), and gave him a fourth straight season with 20 or more goals.
Late in the second period it looked as though the teams were headed into the intermission tied at 2-2. But with seconds left, Gaborik restored a Minnesota lead.
Koivu deked by Mike Mottau at the left circle and put a brilliant backhand pass underneath a sliding Bryce Salvador to set up Gaborik's 35th of the year with 13.4 seconds remaining.
In the third, Zubrus netted his 10th to tie the contest 3-3. He powered past Keith Carney at the bottom of the right circle, before cutting toward the front of the net and slipping the puck under Backstrom at 5:31.
Zubrus, who assisted on Vishnevski's tally, snapped a 14-game goal drought and recorded his first multipoint effort since Feb. 18.
Brodeur protected the 3-3 tie with 11:17 left in the third with a sprawling stick save behind Paul Martin on Gaborik's backhand attempt from the doorstep.
New Jersey improved to 5-3 in shootouts with its eighth win in 12 road games (8-2-2).
NJD NOTES Brodeur's 957th game put him past Scott Stevens for second all-time among Devils. Ken Daneyko holds the record with 1,283... Elias was felled by a Sheldon Brookbank slapshot with 2:45 left in overtime and was in obvious discomfort on the bench for the rest of the game... Martin was back in the lineup after missing five games with general soreness... Colin White missed his third straight game with upper body soreness.
Wrist shot -