NEW YORK, N.Y. – Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils thought the officials got it just right when they waved off the potential tying goal in the closing seconds.
Not surprisingly, the New York Rangers had an opposite opinion as they had trouble digesting a frustrating 1-0 loss on Tuesday night.
Brodeur was at his Hall of Fame best against his and the Devils’ fiercest rival and he made half of his 30 saves in the third period.
The one puck he didn’t stop came off the stick of Rangers captain Ryan Callahan, who appeared to get New York even with a shot through a maze of bodies in front.
However, the goal was immediately disallowed because Marian Gaborik crashed into Brodeur in the crease after he appeared to be pushed from behind by Devils defenceman Anton Volchenkov with 3.5 seconds remaining. The officials saw it differently, whistled Gaborik for interference, and enabled Brodeur to earn his first shutout of the season and the record 117th of his NHL career.
“I made the save, and after that it was a barrage of people. Then I saw the puck behind me,” Brodeur said. “It is kind of obvious. He takes both of his hands and hits my shoulder and pushes me back. I am sure it was the right call. They will probably complain about it but that’s the nature of the beast.”
Rangers coach John Tortorella protested vociferously from the bench, but declined to comment. Gaborik contended he was shoved and was disappointed with the call.
“I tried to put my stick on the ice and then just tried to stop. He just pushed me in to him,” Gaborik said. “If I had run him, I wouldn’t say a word, but I just tried to stop and he pushed me into Brodeur. We could be in overtime right now.”
Instead, the Devils escaped with another win over the Eastern Conference-leading Rangers. New Jersey has won five in a row overall.
Brodeur was sharp and steady throughout, despite going several stretches without facing much action before the third.
David Clarkson gave him all the offence he needed with a first-period, power-play goal. The Devils didn’t need any help from Ilya Kovalchuk, who had three points in each of his previous three games.
New Jersey is 5-0-1 in its past six games, including a shootout victory over the Rangers last week at home. New York is 4-1-1 in its past six, with the only blemishes coming against the Devils—who trail the Rangers by six points.
“We played a great hockey game, right from the start,” Brodeur said. “We said it would probably be a dirty 1-0 game that we would have to win. That’s exactly what happened.
“The last week has been good, beating the Rangers twice, Pittsburgh and Philly. We had a hard time early to do that. Now we seem to come through against these teams.”
Henrik Lundqvist took the tough-luck loss, despite making 21 saves. Lundqvist had won his previous four starts, allowing only four goals and earning two shutouts. He had been tied with Brodeur for the most shutouts (41) since the 2005-06 season.
Lundqvist gave Brodeur credit for getting the late goal wiped out.
“If goalies sell it that good, then yeah they are going to call a penalty,” Lundqvist said.
Rangers rookie Carl Hagelin had two of the best chances against Brodeur, once late in the second period and again in the opening minutes of the third. Gaborik also had a partial breakaway in the middle frame, but his long drive was turned aside.
New York put on the pressure early in the third, forcing the Devils to take a few icings that led to New Jersey coach Pete DeBoer to use his timeout. The Rangers also had their third power play of the night midway through the third, but were again stonewalled.
The Devils grabbed the all-important lead 8:14 in when Clarkson scored a rare power-play goal against the Rangers. New Jersey was already dominating play on the shot board and finally cashed in on its eighth attempt. Zach Parise sent a crisp pass from behind the net in front to Clarkson, who quickly snapped a shot in from the slot for his career-best 21st goal.
“I had a guy right in front of me, but I should still be more aware of Clarksonand see that coming,” Lundqvist said. “I never picked up the puck until it was too late.”
New Jersey carried that lead into the second period, a key point because the Rangers are 10-1-2 this season when ahead after one and 24-1-2 when they score first. The Devils’ power-play unit cracked the tough Rangers’ penalty-killers and notched just the fourth man-advantage goal against New York in 18 games.
“We’ve started playing more like a team,” Clarkson said. “We’ve starting doing the system the coaching staff wanted. The standings are close. We’ve got to keep the pedal down.”
The Devils got much more of a lift from the fireworks off the opening faceoff when New Jersey’s Eric Boulton and Cam Janssen fought Brandon Prust and Mike Rupp after only 2 seconds elapsed.
New Jersey recorded the first five shots of the game, before Hagelin got the Rangers on the shot board 6:10 in.
NOTES: Brodeur is 45-27-20 against the Rangers with nine shutouts in 92 career games. … Clarkson, who scored his previous career high of 17 goals in the 2008-09 season, is two points shy of his best total of 32 in that season. He appeared to injure a shoulder on a hit by Rangers D Anton Stralman in the second period, but remained in the game. … The Rangers have beaten the Devils 99 times.