By John Schweibacher
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The Devils are 2-0-1 since Martin Brodeur returned after missing a month with a pinched nerve in his back.
Brodeur’s return came just as the Devils slipped out of an Eastern Conference playoff spot for the first time this season. But with five points in their last three games, New Jersey is back in a postseason spot.
In the 1995 work-stoppage condensed 48-game NHL regular season, the Devils did not reach a top-eight spot for good until March 19.
Through 33 games this season, New Jersey is 15-11-7 with 37 points, good for seventh in the East. The Devils are five points ahead of ninth-place Carolina.
In 1995, the Devils were 14-13-6 with 34 points through 33 games, which put them in fifth place in the conference, four points in front of ninth-place Florida. New Jersey went 8-5-2 over their final 15 games to finish fifth overall in the East.
Brodeur was credited with his third career goal in the Devils’ 4-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes last week.
Brodeur was the last New Jersey player to touch the puck before the Hurricanes’ Jordan Staal had his pass on a delayed penalty go all the way down ice and into his own net, with Hurricanes goaltender Dan Ellis heading to the bench for an extra skater.
Brodeur is the first goaltender to ever record two regular-season goals. His first came vs. Philadelphia back on February 15, 2000, at the Meadowlands. As was the case last week in Raleigh, the net was vacated on a delayed penalty. With Brian Boucher gone to the bench, Daymond Langkow had his stick hit by the Devils’ Sergei Brylin, and the puck went into the empty net.
Brodeur also scored in the postseason, an empty-netter against Montreal back on April 17, 1997 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal. The goal came when Montreal goalie Jocelyn Thibault was pulled for an extra attacker in the final minute of the game.
Brodeur has now passed Ron Hextall for the most combined goals in NHL history, and is just the second goalie to ever score a power play-goal. Evgeni Nabokov did it for San Jose against Vancouver on March 10, 2002.
Brodeur’s tally marked the 13th time that a goaltender has been credited with a goal in the regular season. It was the 43rd regular-season point of Brodeur’s career. His 41 assists and 43 points are both fourth all-time among goaltenders.
G A PTS
· Tom Barrasso 0 48 48
· Grant Fuhr 0 46 46
· Patrick Roy 0 45 45
· Martin Brodeur 2 41 43
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Brodeur’s goal on Thursday also marked the first time that a goaltender “scored” the first goal of an NHL game, and the second time that a goaltender’s goal came in the first period.
Ottawa’s Damian Rhodes was credited with a first-period goal in a game against the Devils on January 2, 1999, when Lyle Odelein shot the puck into New Jersey’s net after Brodeur left on a delayed penalty.
Martin Brodeur’s 2-1 win over the Panthers on Saturday night was his 666th career win and 100th victory at Prudential Center. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Brodeur became the first goaltender in NHL history to record 100 wins at two arenas. Brodeur won 267 games at Brendan Byrne/Continental Airlines Arena from 1992 through 2007.
Plus: Master Harrold — Defenseman Peter Harrold tied a career high with points in three straight games (two goals and an assist).
Plus: Marek Zidlicky — The defenseman recorded his fourth goal of the season in a loss to Ottawa. He leads all Devils defensemen with four goals and 10 assists (14pts) this year.
Minus: Ilya Kovalchuk — The Devils lost him for two to four weeks. He’s suffering with a right shoulder injury, which occurred in the third period of the 2-1 win over the Panthers.
Minus: Shootout Shutout — The Devils fell to 0-4 in the shootout on the road this season, and to 2-5 overall with their 3-2 shootout loss in Ottawa on Monday night. New Jersey was 4-and-0 last season in road shootouts, with their last victory coming back on December 11, 2011, at Florida.
So the Devils have the Lightning and the Panthers on their schedule this week. Think they’ll take both of those games? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below…