NEWARK, N.J. – A wild victory that included a rare relief appearance by Martin Brodeur relieved the mounting pressure on the New Jersey Devils.
Brodeur made seven saves, and Zach Parise scored in overtime as the Devils snapped a six-game losing streak with a 5-4 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night.
“There certainly was a lot of drama out there tonight,” Devils coach Brent Sutter said. “There was really a strong focus here, and a sense of urgency. It was a positive, and having Marty come in like that, he did a good job, too.
“It’s certainly a step in the right direction. It hasn’t been a pleasant feeling around here for a couple of weeks.”
Jamie Langenbrunner scored twice, Brendan Shanahan connected on a penalty shot, and Jay Pandolfo also tallied for the Devils, who swept the four-game season series from the Lightning.
Tampa Bay got goals from Evgeny Artyukin, Steven Stamkos, Ryan Malone and Martins Karsums.
Brodeur was scheduled to have a quiet night after being honoured in a pre-game ceremony for setting the NHL record for regular-season wins. That changed when backup Kevin Weekes injured a leg in the opening minute of the second period.
On the winning goal, Parise took a cross-ice feed from Travis Zajac and drilled a shot into the net before goalie Karri Ramo could react at 1:21.
“I don’t know if we caught them on a slow line change,” Parise said. “We got them 2-on-1, and it was a really good play by Travis.”
Brodeur unexpectedly played a role in sending the Lightning to their fifth straight loss.
“We played good enough,” Brodeur said. “We can’t go out and play like that every night and think we’re going to win a lot of games. We pulled it off.”
So did Brodeur, in an unexpected role.
Artyukin, who gave the Lightning the lead on the first shot 1:38 into the game, fired a puck from the left wing that appeared to hit Weekes on the left leg above the goal pad.
Weekes made the stop but pitched forward, facedown on the ice. He was eventually helped off, unable to put weight on the leg.
Brodeur came on and surrendered a power-play goal to Stamkos at 5:09, giving Tampa Bay a 2-0 lead. The tally was Stamkos’ 21st, equalling the club record for a rookie held by Brad Richards.
Shanahan’s goal tilted the momentum in New Jersey’s favour.
The penalty shot was awarded when Ramo fell while attempting to clear the puck behind his net. As the puck rolled toward the wide-open net, Ramo threw his stick, attempting a deflection.
He missed, but Shanahan didn’t on the subsequent penalty shot – drilling a blistering shot between Ramo’s pads at 13:05.
Pandolfo followed with the tying goal at 14:50, a drive from the left wing over Ramo’s left shoulder. Langenbrunner added a power-play goal with 1:31 remaining to give the Devils a 3-2 lead.
The Lightning struck first in the third, making it 3-3 as Malone broke in alone to beat Brodeur with a backhander at 2:41.
Langenbrunner countered for New Jersey with his second goal, knocking Zajac’s rebound past Ramo at 11:35.
Karsums tied it 4-4 at 14:06; pouncing on a rebound in the slot.
Lightning coach Rick Tocchet was encouraged by his team’s fighting spirit.
“That was one of our better games in about a month,” Tocchet said. “We battled. It was nice to see. It was a good taste for guys coming back next year, that a team wins, not individuals.
“This was the best we’ve played as a team in a long time.
“Listen, we have a long way to go. I’m not saying we were unbelievable, but we were more on the team side than we have been in a long time.”
Notes: The Devils honoured Brodeur for his 552nd win on March 17 which lifted him past Patrick Roy. Among the gifts given to Brodeur: a full sized sterling silver goalie stick from Tiffany & Co. and a golf vacation to Pebble Beach, Calif. … The Tampa Bay scratches were captain C Vincent Lecavalier (season-ending wrist surgery), D Cory Murphy (lower body injury), D Marek Malik (lower body) and D Richard Petiot. … New Jersey scratched LW Patrik Elias (leg tightness), D Jay Leach and D Andy Greene. … Sutter said Weekes will not accompany the Devils to Buffalo for their game on Saturday against the Sabres. “We don’t know how significant or serious it is,” Sutter said.