Brodeur robs Patrick O'Sullivan in the second period.
With the two-week Olympic break followed by a three-game road trip, it’s been a long time since the Devils have played a game at home.
A return to New Jersey could be just the thing to get them back on track after Sunday’s 2-0 loss to the last-place Edmonton Oilers.
Jeff Deslauriers made 22 saves to hand the Devils their second straight defeat and send them packing with a 1-2-0 mark on their Western swing. Deslauriers produced a pair of key stops on Ilya Kovalchuk, who led New Jersey with five shots. The Devils were shut out for the first time since Feb. 2 at Toronto.
Deslauriers denied Kovalchuk on a breakaway 7:24 into the third period, squeezing the pads to foil Kovalchuk's five-hole attempt. Just over a minute later, Edmonton's Marc Pouliot scored to make it 2-0. Deslauriers also robbed Kovalchuk in front of the net with 7:08 left in regulation after a set up from Dainius Zubrus from behind the cage.
Gilbert Brule had the other goal for the Oilers, who handed the Devils their first loss in their last seven trips to Edmonton.
Deslauriers is no stranger to strong performances against the Devils. In the last meeting between the two teams, he posted 37 saves as Edmonton secured a 2-1 shootout win at the Rock on Nov. 9, 2008.
Martin Brodeur held the fort for New Jersey with 33 saves on Sunday, including a spectacular denial of Patrick O’Sullivan with 20 seconds left in the second period. A Bryce Salvador turnover led to O'Sullivan's chance, but Brodeur stacked the pads to block the spinning backhander from the slot.
Brodeur stopped Ryan Potulny on the doorstep in the opening three minutes of the game, and later turned away Fernando Pisani from the left circle to counter an odd-man rush with 1:54 remaining in the second.
Thirteen seconds after Pouliot’s goal, Brodeur stoned Potulny, who was alone in front to redirect a Mike Comrie pass. The Oilers outshot New Jersey 32-16 over the final 40 minutes.
Head coach Jacques Lemaire thought his club might have looked past the injury-depleted Oilers. With 48 points, Edmonton is the only club yet to have cracked 50 on the season.
“Our focus wasn’t there, our legs weren’t there,” Lemaire said. “Maybe we felt because it’s a team that doesn’t win a lot of games that you can go through the motions. We mentioned this all year: to win games, you have to work.”
The coach credited Brodeur for keeping the game close.
“He played really well,” Lemaire said. “We’re lucky we had him; they could’ve scored four, five, six, seven goals. He played really well.”
The Devils (38-23-3) failed to keep pace with Pittsburgh, which took a five-point lead in the Atlantic Division with a 2-1 victory over Boston. Now Lemaire’s squad faces a busy week against divisional opponents. They host the Rangers on Wednesday and Penguins on Friday, and visit Long Island on Saturday.
After a scoreless first period, Brule’s goal 1:23 into the second put the Oilers ahead 1-0. Brule picked off Brodeur’s attempt to wrap the puck around the boards, then drove to the front of the net. Andrew Cogliano passed behind the net to O’Sullivan, who fed Brule for his 14th.
“We fed them with energy the whole game,” Lemaire said. “The game started, there was nothing going on for either side. Then we started to turn the puck over, they got a little momentum, they liked it, they were working harder and we kept going. We did that the whole game. I know (Edmonton) played well. The way we played, they had to play well.”
Pouliot’s fourth of the year came at 8:28 of the third. Robert Nilsson beat Colin White along the right boards in Devils territory, then poked a diving pass across for Pouliot’s one-timer from the left circle.
The Oilers won for just the sixth time in their last 33 outings.
“They saw the opportunity of getting another game, another win, and they started to work hard,” Lemaire said. “They moved the puck well and made plays like I haven’t seen on our side. We have to go back and work.”
NJD NOTES Martin Skoula, acquired from Toronto at Wednesday’s trade deadline, made his Devils debut and skated on the right side of Anssi Salmela. Skoula registered one shot and one hit in 21:05 of ice time. … The Devils were undefeated in their previous six visits to Oil Country (5-0-1). … Brodeur entered the game with a 5-1-1 mark and 1.92 goals-against average in his previous six trips to Edmonton. … Jay Pandolfo and Mark Fraser were scratched. Andrew Peters was inserted onto the fourth line with Vladimir Zharkov and Dean McAmmond. McAmmond left the game in the second period after taking a hard hit from Zack Stortini near the benches.
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