Devils 4, Avalanche 0
Tuesday, 06.19.2012 / 1:50 AM
Brodeur and Parise celebrate Thursday's 4-0 win over Colorado.
newjerseydevils.com – Martin Brodeur
didn't waste much time in moving two steps closer to history.
After missing 50 games with an elbow injury, Brodeur returned to the Devils' lineup Thursday and posted 24 saves to shut out the Colorado Avalanche, 4-0, at Prudential Center.
and Travis Zajac
each recorded a three-point night with a goal and two assists. Jamie Langenbrunner
had a goal and an assist, and Patrik Elias
added a power-play tally.
The Devils won their fifth straight on home ice with their third shutout over that span.
With Brodeur in front of the home fans for the first time in nearly four months, spontaneous chants of "Mar-ty! Mar-ty!" filled Prudential Center over the game's first two minutes. The crowd of more than 16,000 at the Rock cheered nearly every time the future Hall-of-Famer handled the puck.
Brodeur's seventh win of the season gave him 545 for his career, putting him six away from Patrick Roy's NHL record of 551. His third shutout of the campaign, and 99th of his career, left him four shy of Terry Sawchuk's all-time League mark (103).
He came away with his first victory since Nov. 1, when he hurt his left elbow against Atlanta.
"I was really anxious all day, and a little nervous – more nervous than I thought I'd be, especially early in periods," Brodeur said. "But we pulled it off, it was nice. Nice to score early in the game, [but] I didn't get much work. It was kind of a nice game to play because I was able to get my feet wet in the first period, made a couple saves in the second, and we shut them down pretty well in the third."
Brodeur had no discomfort to report afterwards.
"The elbow was great," he said. "I didn't feel anything all game long. I tested it a couple times, especially getting up and moving across because I had to anchor myself with the post or the arm. I didn't get many shots on the glove side."
The cheers for Brodeur began in warmups, as the early-arriving fans saluted the netminder when he first hit the ice. They only grew louder as the game went on.
"The fans were great," he said. "I expected that, too. I think I've always had a great relationship with the fans, and for them to show up – there were a lot of people out there – and they were all into it when I came back to the net, so it was nice."
The Devils scored once in each of the first two periods before potting two in the third. Colorado's Wojtek Wolski hit the post on a shorthanded rush 5:45 into the second period.
New Jersey's penalty kill was perfect in three tries, and overcame Jay Pandolfo's tripping minor with 37 seconds left in regulation. Brodeur denied Cody McCormick's slapper with 19 seconds remaining.
Brodeur said afterward that he wasn't tested often by the last-place Avalanche. Head coach Brent Sutter commented that that's all part of the plan.
"We don't want to make things hard on our goaltender," Sutter said. "We take pride in that. When there were scoring chances, Marty made the saves and was under control. He was very poised. He didn't get a lot of work, but when it was there he made the save."
Zajac wasn't at all surprised by No. 30's performance.
"He's got that competitive nature that every game he's going to come in and play his best," Zajac said. "Tonight he didn't miss a beat. He looked as good as ever in there."
Jersey's Team opened the three-game homestand with its 15th win in 19 contests. The club will be back in action with a pair of 1 p.m. weekend matinees: Florida visits Saturday before Philadelphia comes to town Sunday for a key divisional matchup.
The Devils (38-19-3, 81 pts.) hold a six-point lead over the second-place Flyers with 21 games remaining.
Langenbrunner put the Devils ahead in the first period before Colorado had registered its first shot on goal. On a 2-on-1 with Zajac, Langenbrunner notched his 19th with a blast from the top of the right circle through Andrew Raycroft's pads at 4:38.
Raycroft finished with 28 saves.
Elias gave New Jersey a 2-0 lead on its second power play of the middle frame. With Ruslan Salei in the box for hooking, Paul Martin fired wide left of the net, and Elias swatted the rebound home on the backhand at 8:43.
Elias' 24th of the year and eighth on the power play was career point No. 693, moving him within eight points of John MacLean for the all-time franchise record (701).
Parise scored his team-leading 36th of the season on a superb individual effort in the third period. He one-handed the puck past Brett Clark along the right boards, then skated around the bottom of the right circle for a chip shot over Raycroft's shoulder at 8:06.
The Prudential Center crowd responded with a chant of "M-V-P! M-V-P!" and Parise said he couldn't help but take notice.
"It's definitely a good feeling when you hear that," Parise said. "I don't really know what to say, but it's a good feeling."
Zajac buried his 17th with 3:13 left in the third.
Paul Martin and Jay Pandolfo returned to the lineup Thursday. Martin, who had two assists, missed four games with upper body soreness, while Pandolfo had been scratched in back-to-back contests. With Martin and Pandolfo back, Jay Leach and Mike Rupp were scratches.