The Devils celebrate after David Clarkson's power-play goal at 11:22 of the second period.
newjerseydevils.com –Martin Brodeur was spectacular, ensuring that there would be no last-second surprises from the Carolina Hurricanes this time around.
Forty-eight hours after Carolina beat the Devils with 0.2 seconds on the clock, Brodeur came back with a perfect 60 minutes to shut down the Hurricanes, 1-0, in Thursday’s Game 5 at Prudential Center.
Brodeur made 44 saves to record his 23rd career playoff shutout and tie Patrick Roy for the most in NHL history.
A sold-out crowd rocked the Rock as the final seconds ticked down on a Devils victory as well as another slice of history for Brodeur. He won his 552nd game here last month to overtake Roy as the winningest netminder in league history.
“The atmosphere was unbelievable,” Brodeur said of Game 5. “Just being a part of it, knowing it was such a tight game – guys were going for it. It’s not like at 10 minutes, we sat back. We had some great chances in the last minute or so. We had a breakaway, we pushed the envelope and those guys did the same thing.”
David Clarkson’s second goal in as many games was the difference. His power-play redirection of an Andy Greene blast in the second period helped secure the Devils’ first 1-0 postseason triumph since Game 3 of the 2003 East finals against Ottawa.
“I think it was a great hockey game,” head coach Brent Sutter said. “It was two very good teams that played at a very high tempo. Obviously both teams had a huge sense of urgency and two goaltenders that were obviously outstanding.”
New Jersey took a 3-2 series lead and will look to close out the Hurricanes in Sunday’s Game 6 at Raleigh. As tight as the series has been – four straight games have been decided by one goal – Brodeur expects more of the same back in Carolina. The clubs combined Thursday for 86 shots.
“More of what we saw today,” Brodeur predicted. “They’re an excellent team. You could see that we dominated parts of the game, and they dominated other parts. We went back and forth all night and it was like that in Game 4 also. We’re a pretty even team as far as the way the offense is going and momentum. Every game has been tight, and I don’t think Game 6 will be any different.“
While Brodeur added to his stellar postseason resume with his 98th playoff win, Clarkson has set out to assemble one of his own with key goals in consecutive games.
In Game 4, Clarkson’s first postseason tally completed New Jersey’s comeback from a 3-0 deficit. Though he has now added a game-winner, Clarkson shrugged off the suggestion that he has a new role as clutch playoff performer.
“I don’t know about that,” said Clarkson, who set career highs with 17 goals and 15 assists in the regular season. “I think the bounces are just going my way right now and that’s a part of hockey. Sometimes they go your way and sometimes they don’t. Right now, it seems it is going my way and I’ll take it while it is.”
Greene made his first appearance of the postseason filling in for Bryce Salvador, who was out of the lineup with a lower body injury he sustained Tuesday.
“It felt good to be able to step in and contribute,” Greene said. “Early on I was just trying to keep things simple and get my feet wet. Whenever you’re not playing, you want to be playing every game. That’s why when you’re watching, you’re not watching as a fan. You’re watching the other team, watching their tendencies and what they do so that if you do get called in, you’re ready.”
Brodeur had to be sharp as the game unfolded. Carolina pounded the net with 35 shots to the Devils’ 26 over the final 40 minutes. New Jersey defenders contributed 22 shot blocks.
“We just went out and played hard,” Brodeur said. “It wasn’t always pretty, we made some mistakes and didn’t capitalize on some power play, but we got it done and that’s what playoff hockey is all about. We showed a lot of character and hopefully we’ll take these two days to rest and feel good about ourselves, then go into a similar type atmosphere in Carolina.”
Carolina’s Cam Ward stopped 41 of 42 Devils shots, and both he and Brodeur had to withstand some bouts with physical play.
Clarkson was called for goalie interference 2:24 into the contest after making contact with Ward. Later in the period, Brodeur was run into by Chad LaRose, who lost his edge between the hash marks as he tried for a loose puck in front of the Devils’ net.
The Devils' netminder suffered a minor cut on the back of his leg as a result, but did not require stitches.
"It's more of a bruise because it's not like it sliced," Brodeur said. "I could see the blood, but my ankle was still working. When you get cut by a skate, you don't know what's going on. When I saw that it was just cut at the surface, a little scrape, I looked a little bit more like a playoff hockey player."
Brodeur, who in Game 4 was bumped by Jussi Jokinen moments before Jokinen’s winning goal with 0.2 seconds remaining, said he didn’t alter anything about his approach on Thursday.
“I didn’t want to change my game because of one thing that happened to me that I wasn’t happy about,” he said. “That’s the worst thing you can do as a player is to change what you’re successful with.”
Brodeur was superb in the second, when Carolina put 19 shots on goal. He fought off Erik Cole’s shorthanded rush two minutes in, and managed to slow down Jokinen’s redirection at the six-minute mark. Jokinen tipped a Rod Brind’Amour pass off the right post, and the shot caromed back off of Brodeur as he stretched across the crease.
The puck came to a stop near the goal line, where Brodeur covered up.
“I felt it hit my pants and I knew it was coming back,” he said. “I didn’t know how hard, so I had to be delicate in the way I was moving, being on my side like that.”
Brodeur recalled making 49 saves in the Devils' four-overtime 1-0 loss to Buffalo in Game 6 of the 1994 Eastern quarters. Dave Hannan won it for the Sabres with Buffalo’s 50th shot of the contest, while Dominik Hasek turned away 70 shots at the other end.
“I lost that one, so this feels better,” Brodeur said.
NJD NOTES Jamie Langenbrunner (lower body) missed his third straight game. ... Brodeur acknowledged his counterpart Cam Ward in Thursday's goalie duel: “He’s been great in all the games we’ve played, and tonight was no different. Tonight he made stops at the right times and it took a tip for us to score a goal on him. The margin of error for our defensive squad was next to none with the way he played.” ... Ward had a big stop on Jay Pandolfo’s breakaway with 5:10 left in regulation. ... Devils went 1-for-4 on the power play to improve to 2-for-21 in the series. Carolina was 0-for-5, slipping to 1-for-19 overall. ... Greene had the game-winning goal in Brodeur's last playoff shutout, a 3-0 decision vs. Tampa in Game 5 of the 2007 Eastern quarterfinal.
1 - 0 NJD
Interference - Goalkeeper