Clinging to a one-goal lead in the closing minutes against the Carolina Hurricanes, Martin Brodeur wasn’t thinking about career shutout No. 102.
Brodeur was thinking about last year and the Canes’ miraculous comeback in final 80 seconds of Game 7 of the first round of the playoffs.
Remember? Carolina scored twice and sent the New Jersey Devils packing.
“You don’t forget these things. You try to learn from it,” Brodeur said after making 26 saves to move within one shutout of tying Terry Sawchuk’s NHL career record in the Devils’ 2-0 victory on Saturday night. “We tried at one point to put it away. When that didn’t work, the last three or four minutes, we just shut it down.”
There were scary moments. Jamie Langenbrunner, who broke the scoreless duel between Brodeur and Cam Ward early in the third period with a goal off his shoulder, had a deja vu moment in the closing minutes when Hurricanes defenceman Tim Gleason had a chance.
“The tying goal actually almost happened again tonight where Gleason was in the middle and he threw it to the D on the boards,” Langenbrunner said. “As you play the game, you are going to see a lot of things. You get that feeling, but you get rid of it just as quickly and get the job done.”
Brodeur did by making four saves between Langenbrunner’s goal and Zach Parise’s empty-net clincher to secure his first shutout of the season and the Devils’ first victory at home in four tries.
The NHL’s winningest goaltender stopped Chad LaRose in close early in the period and he seemed to get a piece of Eric Staal’s shot that might have hit the post with about five minutes to go. Brodeur also stopped a blast by Joe Corvo with about three minutes left and he grabbed a good wrist shot by Sergei Samsonov with 1:14 to play.
“Marty was just great,” Devils coach Jacques Lemaire said. “That’s how we know him, the type of game he can play. You could tell right at the start.”
Langenbrunner scored the winner in the opening seconds of the third period, and Parise added the empty-netter with 40 seconds to go.
Langenbrunner said his goal went off his shoulder. Rob Niedermayer carried the puck deep into the Hurricanes’ zone and tried to centre the puck in front from behind the net. Ward deflected the puck with his stick and it bounced up and hit off Langenbrunner.
“You try to do the right thing by deflecting the pass from coming in front,” said Ward, who was spectacular in facing 29 shots. “Langenbrunner, I don’t think, even reacted. It just went right off of him into the net. It was a bang-bang play that, unfortunately, wasn’t the result we were looking for.”
Carolina coach Paul Maurice wasn’t pleased with his team’s performance.
“From our feeling out, we didn’t do enough to make it more difficult on him,” Maurice said of Brodeur. “He made a great save on Ray Whitney and a couple in tight, but we didn’t generate enough for us to be happy with our offensive game. While he got a shutout, we wouldn’t walk away and say Brodeur stole the game from us. We just didn’t play well enough to say that.”
Ward and Brodeur each had 16 saves in the relatively penalty-free opening two periods.
Ward’s two best stops denied Niclas Bergfors, who had about five chances to score his first goal of the season. The goaltender stacked his pads and slid across the crease to stop Bergfors in close midway through the first period, and he used his glove to fend off a second-period shot from inside the right circle.
Brodeur had his moments, too. He stopped Whitney from the left circle on a play that Staal set up in the first period and he got a little lucky in the second when LaRose’s deflection of Joni Pitkanen’s shot hit the post.
NOTES: Carolina started a four-game road trip that will take the Hurricanes to Long Island, Colorado and Minnesota next week. … Devils D Colin White played in his 600th NHL game. … Hurricanes D Aaron Ward didn’t play in the final two periods.