RALEIGH, N.C. – Denied a shutout and then a victory one night earlier, Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils took an early lead and didn’t let it go.
Brodeur stopped all 26 shots and carried the Devils to a 4-0 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night that moved New Jersey into a flat-footed tie with Pittsburgh atop the Atlantic Division.
The win was Brodeur’s NHL-record 599th and it also gave him his league-best 109th career shutout. The Devils improved their playoff positioning and erased some recent bad playoff memories of losses at Carolina.
Brodeur rebounded after allowing the tying goal in the final 30 seconds of an eventual shootout loss to Chicago on Friday night.
“It was kind of nice to go out and play well again,” Brodeur said.
Last season’s first-round playoff series turned on a last-second goal by Carolina’s Jussi Jokinen. After officials reviewed the play and allowed the decisive tally, Brodeur slammed his stick and yelled at the officials as he left the ice.
This time, he stopped everything the Hurricanes fired at him. That wasn’t much in the first two periods. Brodeur wasn’t sure when he arrived how things would go for him in his latest visit to Carolina.
“You can feel it when you walk in. You know, ‘Not here,”‘ he said. “It hasn’t been very good for us here. But we jumped on them right away.”
Dainius Zubrus and Patrik Elias scored first-period goals, and Zach Parise and David Clarkson scored in the third period as the Devils (45-26-7) kept pace with Pittsburgh, which won earlier Saturday.
Zubrus took a pass from Parise late in a power play and scored through Cam Ward’s legs with 6:47 left in the first.
Elias scored his 16th goal of the season, taking a pass from Ilya Kovalchuk and firing over the left shoulder of Ward with 1:42 left in the first.
“I think it was a good game for us,” New Jersey coach Jacques Lemaire said. “We played really well (Friday) night, and that game just carried over. We played the same way we did (Friday) night. We’re pleased with this.”
In the third period against the Hurricanes, the Devils wouldn’t allow a comeback. Parise gathered a loose puck on the side of the net and put it in off the skate of Ward with 12:26 remaining. Clarkson added an empty-netter.
“They played (Friday) night, so you’re hoping they’re a little off,” Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said. “They weren’t off at all. Their top-end guys were going. They were stronger.”
The Devils, who outshot the Hurricanes 29-26, won the season series 3-1.
Carolina, which had just 14 shots through two periods, was shut out at home for the second time in eight days. Atlanta defeated Carolina 4-0 at the RBC Center on March 27. The Hurricanes have lost five of their last seven home games.
The Devils won’t have to worry about facing Carolina in the post-season. The victory and Boston’s win on Saturday eliminated the Hurricanes from the playoff hunt.
NOTES: Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner was a healthy scratch. He had played in each of New Jersey’s first 78 games this season. … Travis Zajac played in his 315th consecutive game for New Jersey, and Zubrus played his 900th NHL game. … New Jersey improved to 11-5-2 in the second of back-to-back games. … Ward, who had been 2-0 after returning to the lineup after a back injury, made 25 saves.