Brodeur covers up the puck in Carolina. He captured his first shutout since Jan. 20.
A strong all-around effort is what the Devils needed to find their way back into the wins column. They got exactly that on Saturday and controlled every facet of Saturday’s 4-0 triumph over the host Carolina Hurricanes.
The winning formula started between the pipes. Martin Brodeur made 26 saves for his eighth shutout of the season, tying the Coyotes’ Ilya Bryzgalov for the League lead.
Dainius Zubrus, Patrik Elias, Zach Parise, and David Clarkson each had a goal and an assist, and Ilya Kovalchuk contributed two assists. The Devils, who had scored twice in their previous three games, grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first period before adding two more in the third.
Brodeur’s best of the night came with the game still scoreless during a Carolina power play in the first. Brett Carson crept in from the right point for a backdoor play, but Brodeur answered with a sliding pad stop to keep the Hurricanes off the board at 5:47.
“They made that pass across and I was a little late,” Brodeur told MSG’s Stan Fischler. “I went pad first and (Carson) took his time and tried to go high on me. I was able to kick out my top leg. You don’t see that too often. It’s more a save from the 80s than right now, that’s for sure.”
Brodeur’s NHL-best 42nd victory of the year was the 599th of his Hall of Fame career. The winningest goaltender in history, Brodeur also owns the record for career shutouts with 109.
Jamie Langenbrunner and Paul Martin had the night off, but their teammates picked up the slack with an excellent all-around game. Zubrus returned to score a power-play goal after missing Friday’s contest with the flu, and that was all the offense the Devils would need.
New Jersey (45-26-7, 97 pts) snapped a three-game winless skid and moved back into a first-place tie with Pittsburgh atop the Atlantic Division. The Penguins topped Atlanta in overtime on Saturday afternoon. Both teams have four games remaining.
The Devils finished 3-1-0 in the season series with the team that ousted them from the first round of last year’s playoffs. They also critically injured the Hurricanes’ hopes for a postseason berth in 2010. Carolina sits six points out of the final spot with three games to go.
The road trip continues Tuesday, when the Devils visit the Atlanta Thrashers. Kovalchuk will face his former team for the first time since being traded to New Jersey in February.
Brodeur, who had 25 saves in Friday’s 2-1 shootout loss to Chicago, had no trouble handling the workload of a back-to-back. He carried a shutout into the final minute of play against the Blackhawks before a fluky goal tied it with 26 seconds left. Saturday in Carolina, Brodeur captured his first shutout since Jan. 20 versus Florida.
“I felt good,” Brodeur said. “Jacques (Lemaire) asked me before the game how I felt and I told him. The schedule’s been pretty good, we’ve been playing at home a lot, and travel hasn’t been too bad. Especially with the days I got off at the Olympics, I’m feeling pretty good right now.”
He was supported on Saturday by a strong Devils team game, which limited Carolina’s quality scoring opportunities and held them to 14 shots through the first 40 minutes.
“They were crashing the net, making little passes, little plays, little bouncing plays,” he said. “I had to sprawl to recover positioning. I got pretty lucky with it today.”
A night after playing the first penalty-free game in club history, the Devils used the power play to jump out to a 1-0 lead in the first.
With Chad Larose off for interference, Parise won a puck battle inside the Carolina blue line, and chopped a pass toward Zubrus at the right circle. Zubrus turned and snapped the puck underneath Cam Ward’s pads at 13:13. Ward had 25 saves in the loss.
Zubrus’s ninth of the season was his 100th point as a Devil and came in his 900th career game.
Elias’s 16th of the year gave the Devils a two-goal advantage with 1:42 left in the first. Elias collected Kovalchuk’s pass in the slot, curled to the edge of the left circle and ripped a bullet over Ward’s catching glove.
The shot hit the back pipe in the net and came out so quickly that it appeared to have hit the post. The assist gave Kovalchuk 300 for his career.
In the third, Parise’s 36th of the season ended a five-game goal drought. His line with Zajac and Zubrus pinned the Hurricanes in their own zone until Parise was able to jam the puck past Ward at the right post at 7:34.
Carolina pulled Ward for an extra skater with 2:27 to go in regulation, but Clarkson capitalized to score his 10th into an empty net with 1:32 remaining.
Defenseman Mark Fraser was back in the lineup for the first time since March 15. He saw 15:05 of ice time and led the Devils with nine hits. … Jay Pandolfo dressed for the first time in five contests, and registered a hit, a blocked shot and a takeaway in 12:25 of ice time.