The veteran goaltender has been nearly unbeatable, but he can't buy a break. While his New Jersey Devils continue to out-shoot the opposition, they can't score. And it didn't help that Monday's opposition, the Toronto Maple Leafs, have a hot goaltender of their own in James Reimer.
Reimer outdueled Brodeur -- who is 0-6-4 in his past 10 starts -- and Phil Kessel broke a scoreless tie on Toronto's eighth shot of the game at 13:28 of the third period as the Maple Leafs defeated the Devils 2-0 at Air Canada Centre. New Jersey outshot Toronto, 32-13.
The loss for New Jersey was its 10th in a row (0-6-4). The Devils have outshot their opponents 64-23 in the past two games, both 2-0 losses.
The Maple Leafs magic number to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs is now four. Any combination of points gained by Toronto or points lost by the Winnipeg Jets adding up to four will guarantee the Maple Leafs a trip to the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said left wing Joffrey Lupul has been cleared to play, but he elected to keep him out of the game. Lupul has now missed five games since being hit in the head by former teammate Jay Rosehill on April 4. A member of the Leafs management team told NHL.com Lupul would be back playing, “very soon.”
Clearly, the Maple Leafs watched video of Friday's game between the Devils and Ottawa Senators, during which New Jersey outshot the visitors 33-11, but lost 2-0, and decided to try the same thing. The Leafs failed to register a shot on goal for the first five minutes of the opening period and were outshot 9-3 after 20 minutes – the exact same shot totals between Ottawa and New Jersey after Friday's first period.
The Maple Leafs' only scoring chance came on a sharp-angled backhand shot by left wing James van Riemsdyk late in the period. The Devils generated a few decent chances, including a blast from the left point by defenseman Henrik Tallinder that Reimer blocked with his left pad.
Three minutes into the second period, New Jersey center Adam Henrique accepted a perfectly placed stretch pass launched from deep in the Devils' zone and broke in on the left wing side. He fired a snap shot aimed for the far corner of the goal, but Reimer snagged it with his trapped and then flopped on top of the rebound.
Toronto's best chance to score came five minutes into the third, when Tallinder casually carried the puck in front of his team's net and momentarily lost control of it, nearly causing it to trickle past Brodeur.
Brodeur had to make a legitimate save -- his toughest of the game to that point -- a few minutes later, when the Maple Leafs finally penetrated the Devils' zone with some speed. Right wing Phil Kessel dropped a pass to van Riemsdyk, who snapped a shot that Brodeur knocked down with his trapper.
Reimer produced his biggest save of the night to that point blocking a shot on Henrique, who was fortunate enough to have the puck come back to him. While Reimer was down, he somehow managed to get the rebound, too.
Seconds after New Jersey defenseman Andy Greene hit the post, Reimer produced a remarkable splits save on Travis Zajac and about 30 seconds after that, he turned back David Clarkson.
With New Jersey's Marek Zidlicky off for holding, Kessel finally figured out Brodeur with a snap shot from the top of the circle with 6:32 left in regulation, his 16th goal of the season and sixth in the past four games.
Jay McClement added an empty-netter with 36.3 seconds remaining.
NOTES: A moment of silence was held before the national anthems for the victims of the bombings at the Boston Marathon earlier Monday. ... Maple Leafs LW Joffrey Lupul (concussion) missed his fifth straight game. Lupul practiced on Sunday and participated in Monday's pregame skate, but didn't take the warmup. ... Reimer has started 13 of 14 and eight straight. ... Brodeur has 666 career wins, but hasn't earned one since March 23 against Florida.
with the Associated Press
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