Jamie Langenbrunner celebrates at the bench after giving the Devils a 3-1 lead in the third period with his 12th of the season.
newjerseydevils.com (March 15) – Lately, when Martin Brodeur hasn't been good, he's been great.
Missing Patrik Elias and Colin White on Saturday, the Devils got 24 big saves from their netminder and rolled to a 4-2 win over the Avalanche in Colorado.
Brodeur delivered a handful of sensational stops en route to his 40th victory of the campaign, extending his own NHL record with a seventh 40-win season. While no goaltender in history has done it more than three times in a career, Brodeur reached the 40-win plateau for a third straight season.
Jay Pandolfo notched a goal and an assist as his line with John Madden and Brian Gionta accounted for two tallies and three helpers. Madden added his 19th for the Devils, who received a group scoring effort with Elias sidelined (bruised knee).
Brodeur did the rest for New Jersey, which has grabbed points in 11 of its last 13 on the road.
The reigning Vezina Trophy winner demonstrated again and again Saturday why he's regarded as one of the best in the game. He produced a couple of highlight-reel saves against Milan Hejduk and Joe Sakic on New Jersey penalty kills, and handed the red-hot Avalanche just their second loss in their last 10 games.
Brodeur won for the fifth time in six starts, including Friday's 4-3 shootout victory at Minnesota, and trailed only San Jose's Evgeni Nabakov for the league lead.
New Jersey (42-24-6) took a three-point lead in both the Eastern Conference and the Atlantic Division, and was assured of finishing the weekend in no worse than first place.
Montreal, Ottawa and Pittsburgh sat in a three-way tie as of Saturday, with the Canadiens slated to host the Islanders on Saturday night. The Penguins, minus Sidney Crosby, and Ottawa were set to play on Sunday.
The Devils now head back to Newark, where they face the Rangers Wednesday and the Islanders Friday. New Jersey finished 4-1 against the Northwest Division in its final interconference game, and will play nine of its final 10 regular season matchups within the division.
After snapping a 14-game goal drought on Friday, Zubrus recorded his second marker in as many games to give New Jersey the first lead of the game.
Mike Rupp won an offensive zone draw back to Vitaly Vishnevski at the left point, then deftly redirected Vishnevski's shot on Jose Theodore. Zubrus was positioned near the top of the crease to jam the rebound underneath Theodore's pads.
Brodeur guarded that 1-0 lead through the end of the opening frame with two important stops. With the Devils killing of Sergei Brylin's tripping minor, Brodeur denied David Jones' shot from the right circle with 1:43 remaining in the first, then stopped Jeff Finger's one-timer with nine seconds left.
Brodeur slammed the door shut on Colorado's second power play of the game with a brilliant save on Hejduk's one-timer from the left circle.
Three seconds after the man advantage had expired, however, the Avalanche broke through.
Andrew Brunette passed from behind the New Jersey net to Paul Stastny at the left circle. Stastny, the son of former Devil, Peter, snapped his 22nd of the season past Brodeur at 7:15.
It was quickly 2-1 after Gionta and Pandolfo answered back less than two minutes later.
Gionta carried into the Colorado end and dropped for Pandolfo, who fired a wrister from the top of the left circle inside the right post behind Theodore at 9:02. Pandolfo's 12th of the year was his first since Feb. 18, a span of 11 games.
In the third, Brodeur continued to shine. On Colorado's fourth man advantage, Tyler Arnason tried banking a backhander off of a sprawling Brodeur only to watch as Brodeur calmly pulled the puck in toward his body with the shaft of his goal stick at 1:37.
Seconds later, when Sakic had time and space on a rebound to the right of the net, Brodeur got a left skate out to fend off his backhander at 1:55.
Langenbrunner finally gave the Devils some breathing room when he ripped a Zach Parise pass by Theodore at 9:02, and the Devils never looked back. The captain's 12th of the year broke an eight-game drought and gave him his third point in four games (1g-2a).
New Jersey extended its lead to three when Madden and Gionta worked a give-and-go in the neutral zone to spring Madden into Avs' territory.
Madden's shot from the left circle caromed off of Theodore's blocker arm and into the net for a 4-1 Devils advantage at 11:50 of the final frame. His first goal in nine games gave him 14 points (5g-9a) in his last 20 contests.
Madden is four goals shy of matching his career-high 23 set during the 2000-01 campaign.
Colorado climbed back to within two at 4-2 when John-Michael Liles' shot redirected off traffic and in at 12:27. The power-play tally was the only blemish on for a Devils' kill that silenced four of five Colorado chances.
But that would be the last goal allowed on the day by Brodeur, who stopped nine of 10 Colorado shots in the final period.
NJD NOTES Elias did not play after being struck by a Sheldon Brookbank shot in Friday's overtime against Minnesota. He was replaced in the lineup by Rod Pelley, who saw his first NHL action since Feb. 6... Travis Zajac filled Elias' spot on the line with Parise and Langenbrunner. Pelley joined the trio of Brylin and Arron Asham... Zubrus has three points (2g-1a) in two games after going pointless in eight straight... White missed his fourth straight game with upper body soreness.