CALGARY – Martin Brodeur was brilliant and Patrik Elias was opportunistic.
Elias scored the only goal of the game 25 seconds into overtime and Brodeur made 30 saves Sunday night to give the New Jersey Devils a 1-0 win over the Calgary Flames.
It didn’t take long for the Devils to end it in extra time, taking advantage of a Calgary turnover deep in the New Jersey end.
Calgary defenceman Cory Sarich dropped the puck back to Craig Conroy who had the puck stripped from him by Elias. The Devils forward quickly moved the puck ahead to Brian Gionta, then raced up to join him on a 2-on-1 eventually getting the puck back and one-timing it into the open side before Calgary goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff could slide across.
“(Conroy) wanted to shoot it and faked it and left the puck behind,” said Elias. “I moved the puck right away to Brian and Brian made a great pass right back to me.”
Conroy accepted full blame for the loss”.
“That was totally my fault, I should have just shot it quick,” said Conroy. “I tried to pull it and it bounced over my stick and away they went. Ive got to be smarter than that.”
Brodeur broke a tie with George Hainesworth for second place on the NHL’s career shutout list. He has three shutouts this season to push his career total to 95. Terry Sawchuk tops the list with 103.
“It was a weird game, a lot of power play time for the Flames and that’s probably where they got most of their chances and most of their shots,” said Brodeur. “We did a great job on our special teams. It was definitely nice to come through in overtime.”
The win moves New Jersey (20-13-3) ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes and into sole possession of second place in the Eastern Conference. The Devils are 13-3-1 in their last 17 games.
“We had a tough start to the season, we can’t hide it, we started 3-6-1, but we came out of it and now hopefully we’ll be a little more consistent,” Brodeur said.
Calgary (17-13-7) continues its streak of earning at least one point in games, having gone 7-0-4 in December. Sunday’s one point moves the Flames into a tie with Anaheim and San Jose for sixth in the Western Conference.
Worrisome for the Flames would be their inability to win on home ice, where they were the only NHL team a year ago to win 30 games. This year, they are 7-7-6 at the Pengrowth Saddledome and have won just one of its last seven (1-2-4).
“We have to improve especially with the race being as tight as it is right now. You have to win hockey games and you have to do it consistently,” said Flames defenceman Robyn Regehr.
Despite the lack of goal scoring, it was an entertaining game as the sell-out crowd of 19,289 were treated to a number of heavy hits and the excellent goaltending duel between Kiprusoff and Brodeur.
“You know that the opposing goalie isn’t going to give up much, especially when he’s one of the top guys, and that everybody has to work hard and I have to be sharp,” Brodeur said.
Calgary had its best chances to score on the power play, but were unable to score on six man-advantages including four in the second period. The best chance was Jarome Iginla’s one-timer but Brodeur slid across the crease to deny the Flames captain looking for his 25th goal.
“Marty was huge,” said Gionta. “We took a lot of penalties in that second period and he kept us in it. Their power-play is top notch right now, they’re really hot, and he did a great job shutting them down.”
In addition to the 14 shots Brodeur turned aside in the second, his busiest period, a trio of Flames – Sarich, Dustin Boyd, and Adrian Aucoin – all put shots off the goal post that period”.
“Certainly we did have opportunities, particularly with six power plays and didnt capitalize,” said Flames head coach Mike Keenan. “We werent able to score a power play goal, which would have been paramount in this particular contest in view of the way Martin Brodeur was playing.”
Kiprusoff had 21 saves.
Notes – New Jersey LW Zach Parise (illness) missed his first game of the season… Playing against his former team for the first time did not change the fortunes of Calgary D David Hale, who has now played 180 career games without scoring a goal. It is the longest active goal-less streak in the NHL… At home, Kiprusoff has gone 38 games at the Pengrowth Saddledome since his last shutout back on Jan. 9, 2007… The Devils have played a NHL-high 22 road games… Collectively, New Jersey has only five goals from its defencemen with no one having more than one goal. By comparison, there are 10 NHL defenceman with at least six goals.