Game 53 Recap: Brodeur can’t be ‘pushed’ from a shutout
(headline by @ThatsJustPrime)
A week ago tonight, the Devils earned their first win of the season against the Rangers. That game featured a crazy bounce late in the third period and the Devils won, 4-3 in a shootout. Tonight, the Devils earned two more points and won another game against the Rangers, this time, at Madison Square Garden. Last time the Devils beat the Rangers, Martin Brodeur was good. Tonight, he was spectacular. After Sunday’s win over Pittsburgh, Ilya Kovalchuk said that Martin Brodeur looked like he was 25 years old again. Tonight, Kovy’s statement looked pretty good, again. It was another crazy game, though and featured another wild finish.
The start the Devils had in the first period could not have been much better. They came out flying. They had the game’s first seven shots, and nine of the first 10, and they were able to capitalize on an early power play chance. After Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist knocked away a chance by Patrik Elias and Zach Parise with his blocker, Ilya Kovalchuk kept the puck in the zone, and Elias slid the puck to Parise, who was below the goal line. Then Parise made a perfect pass to a cutting David Clarkson in the slot and Clarkson buried his 21st goal of the season, but more importantly, gave the Devils a 1-0 lead. They nearly struck again, as Petr Sykora had a series of chances in the first, but hit the goal post on one of them. The Rangers warmed up late in the period, but the Devils carried the lead into the second period.
The Devils continued to dictate the pace of the game into the second period. They couldn’t find a way to beat Lundqvist a second time, despite two power plays early in the period. Like in the first period, however, the Rangers seemed to play better as the period wore on. Still, the Devils kept their composure in their own end and were able to limit the Rangers’ scoring chances. They were outshooting the Rangers, 21-15 after two periods, but as the Rangers proved in the first meeting with the Devils this season, they can certainly come back in the third period. The Devils also caught a break as Brandon Brust deflected Brandon Dubinsky’s pass wide of the net. The Devils needed a strong third period.
Unfortunately, they didn’t really get a strong third period. Luckily, their future Hall of Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur showed up to play tonight. As the Rangers dominated the third period, Brodeur had an answer to every single Rangers shot on goal. Marty’s top saves included stops on Carl Hagelin’s rush and Ruslan Fedentenko’s chance. Brodeur with as many saves in the third periodl, 15, as he had in the first two periods combined. The Devils held on, despite icing the puck several times and being outshot, 15-1 in the third period. Jacob Josefson’s partial breakaway was the only Devils shot of the period, and Lundqvist stopped the shot. Josefson couldn’t elevate his shot enough to beat Lundqvist.
The Devils were able to hold off the Rangers, but it did not end without controversy. With under ten seconds to go, the Rangers charged into the zone, and had Marian Gaborik driving the net. Anton Volchenkov seemed to lean into Gaborik, and he crashed into Brodeur and pushed Marty into the net. Artem Anisimov then slid the puck into the net, which would have tied the game, but the refs immediately waived the goal off. Gaborik ended up with a goalie interference penalty and the Devils won, 1-0. It was a tough call for the refs to make. Personally, I’m not really sure what the right call should have been. Volchenkov may have shoved Gaborik into Brodeur, yet Gaborik may have given Marty an extra shove. It depends on how you view it. Regardless, the Devils won and Brodeur shut out the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
What does it mean? Well, the Devils got some help in the standings tonight, as the Penguins and Flyers both lost in shootouts. The Devils are technically 5th in the Eastern Conference now, with 65 points. They’re also just two points behind Philadelphia and six points behind the conference-leading Rangers, who they play three more times this season. The Devils have won five straight games. It is interesting to note that the Devils are 5-0-0 with Steve Bernier in the lineup and with Andy Greene back. The Devils have played much better with those two in the lineup this season.
Some stats: Brodeur picked up his 117th career shutout, including nine against the Rangers, but his second shutout at Madison Square Garden. It was also Brodeur’s first shutout since a 1-0 shootout loss to the Penguins on March 25th, 2011 (0-0 games into a shootout are considered shutouts). Clarkson’s goal was his 21st of the season, which sets a new career high, as will every goal he scores until the end of the season. Clarkson has registered points in every game since the All-Star break. Patrik Elias’ assist gives him 52 points in 52 games this season. Parise also recorded an assist, which, like Clarkson, gives him points in every game since the All-Star break, and 47 on the season. As a team, it was the Devils’ third shutout of the season. Johan Hedberg shut out the L.A. Kings and New York Islanders, both on the road.