NEWARK, N.J. – Martin Brodeur shut out the Pittsburgh Penguins – again.
Brodeur made 32 saves for his second straight shutout against Pittsburgh and record 105th overall, leading the Devils to a 2-0 victory Wednesday night. “It was like a playoff game,” Brodeur said. “Guys were going to the net and their were a lot of good scoring chances on both sides.
“It was a fun game to be part of. They are a top team, the one that last season made it all the way to the Stanley Cup. Everytime you are able to shut down key players the likes of (Sidney) Crosby and (Evgeni) Malkin, it shows the guys have been doing a good job.”
Selected to the Canadian Olympic team Wednesday, Brodeur broke a tie with Terry Sawchuk for the NHL shutout record in his previous start against the Penguins, a 4-0 victory in Pittsburgh on Dec. 21.
Devils coach Jacques Lemaire called Brodeur’s latest whitewash his best game of the season.
“He prepared himself well,” Lemaire said. “He was in control. He doesn’t get rattled. He knows what he’s doing.”
Jamie Langenbrunner could sense Brodeur was ready for another big effort against the defending Cup champions.
“He’s a very special player and it seems the bigger the game, the more he rises up big and tonight was no exception,” Langenbrunner said. “I think he was excited for this game, you could see he was focused and ready to go. For us as a team, that’s always a great feeling.”
And a deflating one for the Penguins
“It is amazing what he’s accomplished,” Pittsburgh’s Bill Guerin said aboiut his former New Jersey teammate. “Marty is just a true professional, a true champion.”
Niclas Bergfors and Langenbrunner scored for the Devils, 4-0 against the Penguins this season. New Jersey has won 14 of its last 17 games overall to improve to 28-9-1.
The Penguins have dropped three in a row.
The Devils dominated the first three meetings this season in Pittsburgh with the defending Stanley Cup champions, winning by a combined 12-2 count.
They wasted little time extending that roll in first game of series played in New Jersey. Bergfors scored 1:48 in against backup Brent Johnson, making his first start in eight games. Bergfors fired a sharp-angle shot from the right boards that somehow eluded Johnson. It was the 13th goal for Bergfors, second among rookie goal scorers behind the Islanders’ John Tavares (16).
It then turned in a tense battle as Brodeur made several sparkling stops in the second period to preserve the 1-0 lead. Brodeur twice stopped Malkin, first with the pads, later with the blocker. Brodeur also robbed Kris Letang with a glove save in the first minute of the period.
Both teams had outstanding chances in the third. Johnson stopped Andy Greene’s point shot, while Brodeur snared Crosby’s short-handed backhander.
Pittsburgh’s final chance for the equalizer came with 1:26 remaining when Travis Zajac was whistled for holding, giving the Penguins their first power-play of the game.
Pittsburgh pulled Johnson for an extra attacker, creating a 6-on-4 advantage. Brodeur made a pad save on Sergei Gonchar’s blast and the Devils’ defenders blocked two more shots before Langenbrunner sealed the win with an empty-net goal with 11.8 seconds remaining.
“I would have liked him to have gotten him a win, ” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said of Johnson who stopped 31 shots. “I know our team battled hard and we played a good game. We played the way we needed to play. We would have liked to have gotten one by Brodeur and tied that game up.”
NOTES: Devils D Bryce Salvador missed the game because of a lower-body injury, and New Jersey recalled D Matthew Corrente from Lowell (AHL). To clear roster room for Corrente, the Devils put RW Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond on injured reserve retroactive to Dec. 17 with an upper-body injury. … The Devils scratches were RW Ilkka Pikkarainen and LW Andrew Peters. The Penguins scratched RW Eric Godard and D Jay McKee.