Penguins: Devils' goalie sets shutout mark in win at Mellon Arena
Martin Brodeur makes save against Evgeni Malkin en route to his record-setting 104th shutout.
Devils goalie Martin Brodeur is all smiles after shutting out the Penguins and breaking the record for career shutouts with 104.
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New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur realized he had a chance to make history last night.
So did his teammates.
And to a man, they acted like it in the Devils' 4-0 victory against the Penguins at Mellon Arena.
Brodeur, who set an NHL record by recording his 104th career shutout, has led his team to three Stanley Cup titles, and likened the effort in front of him to those he's used to seeing in late spring.
"It was almost like a playoff game," he said. "They were just trying to chip the puck out and everybody was blocking shots everywhere. It was a great effort from my teammates for me to be able to do that."
And another pretty fair one by Brodeur, who owns just about every goaltending record worth keeping.
"He's the best goalie to ever play the game, plain and simple," Devils forward Brian Rolston said. "He's got the Stanley Cups, he's got the shutouts, he's got the games, he's got everything."
Even the guys Brodeur frustrated last evening admitted to being impressed by his accomplishments.
"He's a legendary goalie, and he proves it every year," Penguins center Sidney Crosby said. "He's been so consistent, and that [says] a lot, when you're able to get that many."
Brodeur broke the record set by Terry Sawchuk who, coincidentally enough, recorded his final shutout against the Penguins.
The Penguins launched 35 shots at Brodeur, and pressed for the goal that would have prevented them from becoming a footnote on his resume right through the waning minutes of play. Crosby hit a goalpost with just over 1:40 to go in regulation, and Brodeur had to glove a close-range shot from Evgeni Malkin with 42 seconds left.
So while this might not have been the most dazzling individual performance of his 104, it wasn't bad, either.
"They made me work for it," Brodeur said. "I got a little lucky, just like a good goalie should be."
The Devils are 3-0 against the Penguins, with all three victories coming at Mellon Arena. The latest gave New Jersey undisputed possession of first place in the overall standings and, more important, reinforced the confidence the Devils surely feel when facing them.
The Penguins, though, insist New Jersey does not have a psychological edge on them.
"They're a good hockey team," Crosby said. "I think we're guilty of not being where we need to be when we play them, and we have to look in the mirror for that. But I don't think they're in our heads, at all."
Bryce Salvador gave New Jersey the only goal it needed when he beat Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury through a screen with a long wrist shot at 4:39 of the opening period, but the Devils blew the game open with goals by Niclas Bergfors (23 seconds), Patrik Elias (8:27) and Mark Fraser (11:03) in the middle period.
"In the second period, we gave them the game they wanted to play," Crosby said. "That's how they play. They like to get those leads and sit on them, really tie things up. Unfortunately, we gave them that opportunity."
Rolston didn't argue the point, saying that, "I don't think it was their best night."
Fraser's goal prompted Penguins coach Dan Bylsma to replace Fleury, who stopped 10 of 14 shots, with Brent Johnson. Coincidentally enough, Fleury had noted at the game-day skate that Brodeur was pulled from his previous start, a 5-4 victory in Atlanta Saturday.
"It's good to see a guy like him get pulled once in a while," Fleury said. "In my mind, he's one of the best, and if it can happen to a guy like that, it can happen to anyone else."
The Penguins played the final half of that period without center Jordan Staal, who bled heavily after being struck in the face by a shot off the stick of Devils defenseman Colin White at 7:01.
Staal apparently has a broken nose, but he returned for the third period wearing a shield to protect his injury and presumably will be able to play against Ottawa 7:08 p.m. tomorrow at Mellon Arena.
"He's not as pretty as he was before the game," Bylsma said. "But he's going to be fine."
And so, the Penguins contend, will they, even though the Devils certainly appear to have their number this season.
"We've just been outplayed three times," left winger Mike Rupp said. "They've been better than us each time, and they won. That's just kind of that."
First Published December 22, 2009 12:00 am