TORONTO – Martin Brodeur will turn 36 years old in June, but the Devils superstar is showing no negative signs of age.
Brodeur thwarted Toronto time and again Tuesday at Air Canada Centre, stopping 41 shots to help New Jersey snap a three-game winless streak with a 4-1 victory over the Maple Leafs.
“We’ve been sliding a little bit and lost a few points (in the standings) the last few games, so it’s nice to get back winning,” said Brodeur, who improved his record to 36-21-5 with the win. “There’s been a while there where we haven’t scored more than one goal (per game), so it shows if we score more than one goal, we have a good chance to win.”
The Devils were 0-2-1 heading into Tuesday’s game, but got a goal in each of the first two periods against Toronto and leaned heavily on Brodeur to counter the sustained pressure the Leafs put on the Devils early in the contest.
“They threw a lot of pucks on our net,” New Jersey centre John Madden said of the Leafs, a desperate team fighting just to keep their faint playoff hopes alive. “(Brodeur) had to be real sharp, and he played great like always. We were able to stay in the game long enough and find some offence in the third period.”
Asked whether Brodeur’s stellar performance this season has surprised him, New Jersey coach Brent Sutter’s answer was quick and simple.
“No,” Sutter said. “Before I came (to New Jersey) I knew he was a great goaltender, and he’s played very well. He’s as fresh now as he was in October and November, and (managing him) between games properly has certainly helped him in game situations.”
New Jersey was looking to jump past Pittsburgh and claim first place in both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference with the win over Toronto, but the Penguins beat Tampa Bay 2-0 to maintain a one-point lead in the standings over the Devils.
Nevertheless, the Devils understand the race for post-season positioning is far from over.
“It’s a real hectic pace,” Madden said of the late-season drive for the playoffs. “You win three or four games in a row, you’re in first place. It’s going to be a long 15 or 16 games left, and who knows where we’re going to end up, but we’ve just got to keep putting our best foot forward and see what happens.”