Brodeur stands tall as Devils beat Leafs 2-1

“I want to play every game,” Brodeur said after backstopping the New Jersey Devils to a 2-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.

“I told Claude before the season that that’s how I felt. But it’s his decision. People may think I make that call but I don’t.”

Brodeur has played 70 or more games in the last eight seasons but at 34 one has to wonder when age will start lowering that number. Not this year.

“I feel great,” said Brodeur, who has started all but one of New Jersey’s 19 games this season.

The future Hall of Famer stopped 33 of 34 shots Saturday night as his Devils stole one from the Leafs.

“He’s the best in the world,” Leafs coach Paul Maurice said. “That has a lot to do with how you play. You don’t need to score four to win tonight.”

Brodeur was also in net the previous night for a 3-2 win over Ottawa.

“I felt strong out there,” said Brodeur, pushing aside concerns of the back-to-back starts. “Except for that one moment of weakness tonight – I don’t know what happened on that goal.”

Only Darcy Tucker, with a long blast from inside the blue-line late in the third, was able to beat Brodeur, preventing the superstar goalie from moving into a tie with Glenn Hall for third all-time in all-time shutouts. Brodeur remains at 83, one behind Hall.

“Marty was outstanding,” Julien said. “He kept us in the whole game, no doubt the was a big difference.”

Jamie Langenbrunner and Patrik Elias had the goals for the low-scoring Devils, who improved to 12-6-1 despite sitting 27th in the NHL in goals per game.

Elias’s fluttering shot from the slot made it 2-0 at 12:16 of the third period and stood as the winner, only the fourth goal this season for New Jersey’s highest-paid player.

“Tell me about it,” Elias responded when asked if the goal was a relief.

It wasn’t a pretty goal but it also wasn’t his ugliest ever.

“My first NHL goal went off my ass,” Elias said with a laugh.

The Leafs, who fell to 11-6-4, are perhaps beginning to feel the loss of captain and top scorer Mats Sundin, having scored only two goals in their last two games. Still, the Leafs peppered Brodeur with shots, especially in the third period when they had 18 shots on goal, but could only solve him once.

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“It was a boring game to play, they were sitting back,” said Leafs centre Matt Stajan. “You’d skate in their end and you’d have no play. They’d take away your game.”

Mikael Tellqvist was the surprise starter for Toronto after J.S. Aubin fell ill with the flu hours before the game.

“I didn’t expect to play at all today,” said Tellqvist, who made 17 saves. “It was fun to get a chance to play . . . I’m the third goalie here and you just have to wait and seem.”

Tough guys Cam Janssen and Wake Belak woke up a sleepy start to the game with an entertaining bout, the Devils’ Janssen landing more blows in his league-leading eighth fighting major of the season.

The two teams went right back to boring hockey until Janssen yet again provided a wake-up call, drilling Tucker, a borderline hit that ignited a brief melee with all skaters on the ice grabbing on to each other.

Langenbrunner opened the scoring in a boring affair when he quickly turned around at the top of the faceoff circle and ripped a slapshot past Tellqvist with 3:09 to go in the second period.

Notes: Terry Sawchuk’s 103 shutouts are the most ever in NHL history, followed in second by George Hainsworth at 94 … Star centre Scott Gomez (groin) missed his seventh straight game for New Jersey … The Devils opened a five-game road trip which next takes them to Phoenix on Wednesday and Anaheim on Friday … No. 1 goalie Andrew Raycroft (groin) continue to make progress but he was out for a third straight game Saturday, Leafs coach Paul Maurice not wanting to rush him back. Sundin (elbow) missed his fourth straight game … The Leafs next play four games in six days, Monday at home to the Islanders, Wednesday at Buffalo, Friday at Washington and next Saturday at home to Boston.