The 2008-09 Devils are introduced during Friday's pregame ceremony.
newjerseydevils.com – A new season and a new mask brought more of the same for Martin Brodeur.
The netminder made 25 saves, including a stop on Kyle Okposo's first-period penalty shot, as the Devils opened the 2008-09 season with a 2-1 win over the New York Islanders Friday at Prudential Center.
Brodeur, who took to the ice wearing the new MB30 mask he unveiled earlier this week, picked up right where he left off after capturing his fourth Vezina Trophy last season. He notched career win No. 539 to close to within 12 of tying Patrick Roy's league mark, and passed Tony Esposito to set a new NHL record for consecutive opening night starts with one team (14).
After losing his stick during an Islanders flurry in the dying seconds of regulation, Brodeur dazzled by catching Mike Comrie's wrister with his blocker hand to secure the one-goal victory. He has more wins against the Islanders (41) than any other team.
The scrappy Islanders were a thorn in the Devils' side last season, dumping New Jersey six times in eight meetings. Just as important as getting that first win was the Devils' ability to produce a strong effort against a club that had played them tough for much of 2007-08.
"We did a lot of good things," said head coach Brent Sutter. "Our PK was good. We scored a power-play goal. We played a very intelligent third period. We worked hard, and we played the third period particularly better. We kept making smart plays. I thought we turned too many pucks over in the second period. Out goaltender (Brodeur) played well. He made some great saves. It's a good start."
New Jersey (1-0) opened the game with Brian Rolston centering Elias on the left wing, and Brian Gionta on the right. Defenseman Anssi Salmela made his NHL debut paired with Colin White on the Devils' starting five. Salmela, signed as a free agent out of Finland in May, also saw time on the Devils' top power-play unit, playing the point with Rolston.
The Islanders took the first lead of the contest on Doug Weight's power-play goal. Paul Martin was guarding Bill Guerin in the slot when Weight's shot from outside the right circle deflected off Martin's right skate and in at 9:48.
Parise and the Devils answered back on the power play to even the score. With Radek Martinek in the box for holding, Martin ripped a shot from the blue line that David Clarkson deflected in front. Parise, who has posted back-to-back seasons with at least 30 goals, collected the rebound on his backhand to beat Islanders' back-up netminder Joey MacDonald at 12:49.
Later in the frame, Brodeur delivered a superb stop on Okposo's penalty shot. White, after turning the puck over at the Islanders' blue line, gave chase and took down the New York rookie with 3:58 left in the first period. On his shot attempt, Okposo snapped the puck top right corner only to have Brodeur glove it safely away.
The Devils carried the play in the first period, outshooting the Isles 11-5, and struck for the go-ahead tally early in the second.
Rolston showcased his trademark quickness and puck-carrying abilities to generate New Jersey's second goal of the game, and first lead of the new season. The converted centerman rushed the puck out of the Devils' zone before springing a speeding Gionta down the right side. Gionta's centering feed from the bottom of the right circle found Elias in front for his first of the season and a 2-1 advantage 0:29 into the period.
Courtesy of four minor penalties, New Jersey slipped back on its heels in the second period and was outshot 12-7. But the Devils' penalty killers shut down the Islanders' attack over the final 40 minutes and limited New York to one goal on six chances with the man advantage.
In the third, the Devils missed a chance to pull ahead by two goals with 1:14 remaining, when John Madden and David Clarkson could not convert a two-on-one opportunity. As the clock ticked down below the one-minute mark, New Jersey did an excellent job of pinning New York deep in its own zone. The Islanders penetrated Devils territory with less than 30 seconds remaining, but Brodeur slammed the door.
The Devils head out on a four-game road trip beginning Saturday night in Pittsburgh, and continuing Monday at the Rangers; Thursday at Atlanta; and next Saturday at Washington. New Jersey's next home game is set for Wednesday, Oct. 22 against Dallas.
NJD NOTES Brodeur has stopped five of six penalty shots in his career, and is two-for-two against the Islanders. He stopped the Isles' Dave Scatchard in New Jersey's 4-1 win over New York on Feb. 27, 2001. Only Anaheim's Fredrik Olausson has scored against Brodeur on a penalty shot, but the Devils went on to a 2-1 win over the Ducks on November 24, 1999.
NJD FIRSTS OF 2008-09
First shot: Brian Gionta, 0:09 of the first period
First save: Martin Brodeur, 0:32 of the first period
First goal: Zach Parise (PPG), 12:49 of the first period
G Martin Brodeur, 30
D Colin White, 5
D Anssi Salmela, 28
LW Patrik Elias, 26
C Brian Rolston, 12
RW Brian Gionta, 14
Opening night lines Elias-Rolston-Gionta