Brodeur set a career high with his 12th shutout of the season, stopping 31 shots in the New Jersey Devils’ 1-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night. “Some games you have a feeling that there’s not going to be many goals scored, just by the way the game is played,” said Brodeur, who has twice as many shutouts as anyone in the league. “Tonight I think you could see right from the get-go, everybody had their opportunities but there were no goals.
“We got one early in the second, so we just try to keep it tight. We are used to playing games like that and I thought we played well with the lead.”
Brodeur has 92 career shutouts, third on the career list behind George Hainesworth (94) and leader Terry Sawchuk (103).
It was the second time this season Brodeur blanked Pittsburgh, which lost for the third time in four outings since having a 16-game point streak snapped.
“Brodeur was again phenomenal,” Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. “There were three or four times the puck went through him but he just got a little piece of it and we couldn’t get that break.
“You need some breaks and we didn’t get the breaks tonight. We had our chances. But Martin Brodeur is a hell of a player.”
New Jersey didn’t have all that many quality chances against Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury, who made 24 saves himself in his first start in eight days since allowing six goals in a loss to the New York Islanders. But Jamie Langenbrunner converted the only chance New Jersey needed 33 seconds into the second period.
His 21st goal came on the power play off a backhand pass from Scott Gomez.
Langenbrunner fired a slapshot from the high slot through traffic past Fleury. Patrik Elias picked up the second assist on the play.
“Great pass from Scott Gomez, right on my tape, and I was able to walk right into it,” Langenbrunner said. “Sometimes, those find their way through, and sometimes they hit a body, so I’m glad that got through.”
New Jersey completed a 10-3 February with the victory, which fell on the day of the NHL’s trade deadline.
The Penguins made five trades earlier in the day in an effort to close the gap with the Devils – and hold off teams chasing them to secure a playoff spot. The deals involved seven players and three draft picks.
Veteran winger Gary Roberts, the most notable player Pittsburgh acquired, did not play but was in attendance after arriving in Pittsburgh late in the day.
The Devils, the league’s stingiest defensive team, shut down the Eastern Conference’s third-highest scoring offence, allowing very few quality chances when playing five-on-five.
League scoring leader Sidney Crosby and rookie scoring leader Evgeni Malkin each had seven-game point streaks snapped.
Malkin hit a post while skating fast down the left wing late in the second period, and Crosby and Mark Recchi had chances on a power play minutes later. Sergei Gonchar hit the post in the opening minute of the final period, and Crosby had a chance at the rebound before he was tied up by Devils defenceman Colin White.
“We can’t give up hope (of catching the Devils),” Crosby said. “We’ve got to make sure we’re just getting points no matter where that puts us in the division.
“We’ve got to put some wins together and get some points.”
The teams will meet two more times this season, each coming in the next 15 days.
“They’re going to be a good team all the way through the rest of the season, so you know every time you are able to gain points on them it is a big bonus because we don’t want to try to sweat it out in the last couple games,” Brodeur said.
Notes: The Devils made only one trade Tuesday, and that involved only a draft pick and no new players coming to the team. The Penguins have the league’s worst penalty kill on the road but rank fourth in home games. They came into Tuesday’s game killing 87.5 per cent of opponents’ power plays at Mellon Arena and were successful in three of four such New Jersey chances Tuesday . . . C Chris Thorburn was in uniform for Pittsburgh for the first time since Feb 4 . . . . Crosby, who is 19 years, 204 days old, was attempting to become youngest player to reach 200 career points. Wayne Gretzky was 19 years, 347 days old when he reached that milestone. Crosby has 199 career points.