NEW YORK – While many clad in red and black gasped at Martin Brodeur’s blunder behind his net, the NHL’s career leader in wins remained calm despite the chaos around him.
Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils were locked in a third-period tie with the New York Rangers when the puck got free behind the vacated goal and onto the stick of top scorer Marian Gaborik. Brodeur hurried back to the crease in a scramble, and the Rangers couldn’t take advantage.
Moments later, Dainius Zubrus scored the decisive goal that led to the Devils’ 4-2 victory Thursday night.
“When you’re doing it, you’re trying to recover as quickly as possible,” Brodeur said. “You realize (the danger) more after it happens than when it happens.
“I knew he was there. I knew I had to react. So when that bad bounce happened, I knew I was going to be in a little trouble. I didn’t try to overplay it. I didn’t try to get contact with him. I just wanted to make sure I stayed loose.”
While he remained one shutout behind Terry Sawchuk’s NHL record of 103, Brodeur finally found a way to top Rangers counterpart Henrik Lundqvist in regulation on the road for the first time. Brodeur is 2-8-2 against Lundqvist in the regular season at Madison Square Garden.
“It’s always nice to beat the Rangers and play well,” said Brodeur, who made 29 saves.
Zubrus’ tip-in of Zach Parise’s soft, rolling shot 7:51 into the third period gave New Jersey its first 4-0 road mark since 1989. The Devils are 1-3 at home.
“I’m not sure why, but so far we’ve been a good road team,” said Parise, who scored two goals. “We’re going to establish ourselves at home, but to be able to win on the road, that’s a sign of a good team.”
Ryan Callahan had a breakaway chance with two minutes left, but was thwarted from behind by diving Devils defenceman Colin White.
Parise and Nicklas Bergfors gave the Devils a 2-0 lead in the first, but Gaborik and Ales Kotalik answered in the second for New York (7-3), which has lost two straight following a seven-game winning streak. Lundqvist made 21 saves.
“I thought we stood up pretty well when we were down 2-0,” Rangers coach John Tortorella said. “This is when you start finding out about your club when you go through stuff like this.”
Parise added an empty-net goal with 40.2 seconds left.
“We played in spurts,” Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner said. “We played a poor second period. The first period we played great. We got a bounce in the third to get that go-ahead goal, but we definitely played better. We’re getting there. It’s a work in progress.”
The Rangers gave up seven of the final eight goals in a 7-3 home loss to San Jose on Monday and quickly fell into another hole against New Jersey. They broke out of their doldrums in the second period with the two that got them even.
Gaborik, coming off his first pointless game of the season, cut the Rangers’ deficit to 2-1 at 1:47. With Devils defenceman Mike Mottau off for high-sticking, Gaborik squeezed a shot through a screen and past Brodeur for his seventh goal just 7 seconds into the power play.
After a couple of near New York breakaways were busted up by the Devils, the Rangers turned a bailout save by Lundqvist into the tying goal.
Marc Staal turned over the puck in the New York end and got twisted around as a pass found Zubrus alone with a clean shot at the net. Zubrus’ hard drive was kicked out by Lundqvist’s left pad and right to teammate Dan Girardi.
Girardi hit Kotalik with a pass streaking up the middle and alone on Brodeur. With a snap of his wrist, Kotalik beat him gloveside at 14:25 for his fourth goal.
Parise opened the scoring with a breakaway goal, created by a quick tap pass at centre ice by Langenbrunner. Parise snapped a shot over Lundqvist’s glove at 6:11 for his fourth. Parise, who scored 45 times last season, has four goals in three games after scoring only one in New Jersey’s first five.
Bergfors pushed the lead to 2-0 with 4:50 left in the first, redirecting David Clarkson’s shot past Lundqvist for his first of the season and second in the NHL.
“It hurts to lose this game,” Lundqvist said. “When you lose the puck at the wrong time of the game, it is going to really hurt you.”
NOTES: Rangers enforcer Donald Brashear sat out due to soreness. … Bergfors, who has played 17 NHL games, scored his other goal on Nov. 1, 2008, against Atlanta. … Brodeur beat Lundqvist in a shootout at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 22, 2007. … The Rangers fell to 51-28-20-1 in 100 games versus New Jersey at MSG.