Brodeur, Devils shut down Pens
New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur has lost more games to the Penguins than any other team in his NHL career.
He didn’t add to that total Wednesday night.
Brodeur was brilliant as he stopped 25 shots, including a shorthanded breakaway by Sidney Crosby, to lead New Jersey to a 2-1 win over the Penguins at Mellon Arena. The Penguins finished their nine-game set against Atlantic Division opponents a disappointing 2-6-1 and now reside alone in the division basement.
“It’s really hard because the ice is awful out there and, when you get behind it’s hard to create chances,” Penguins forward Petr Sykora said. “On the other side, Marty played well and, when he needed to make a big save he did.”
Brodeur now has 501 wins in his career, second only to Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy (551) in NHL history and is 32-20-4 all-time against the Penguins including a 2-1 mark this season .
“He’s really picked his game up in the last couple after getting that 500th win,” Devils forward John Madden said. “There’s a big difference in him. He’s a little lighter in his step and he’s not thinking about it as much.”
Penguins center Evgeni Malkin extended his scoring streak to and NHL-leading 14 games and broke up Brodeur’s bid for his 92rd career shutout when he scored on a mini breakaway at 7:11 of the third period. Crosby, however, saw his league and career-best 19-game string come to an end. He has been held scoreless in seven of his 20 career games against the Devils.
“We had opportunities even though we fell behind by two,” Crosby said. “Brodeur made some big saves… but this is a tough one to take.”
Zach Parise scored both New Jersey goals on the power play for a Devils team that came in with one man-advantage goal in its previous nine games. Among Eastern Conference teams, only Buffalo and Washington have fewer points than the Penguins 18.
For a game that started out with a bang, it certainly ended in a whimper.
New Jersey right wing David Clarkson and Penguins left wing Ryan Malone dropped the gloves for a fight just two seconds into the game. It was the fastest fighting major from the start of a game in the NHL since former Penguins forward Andre Roy, then with Tampa Bay, took on Philadelphia’s Donald Brashear at 0:02 on Dec. 18, 2003.
New Jersey got the first big break of the game midway through the first period when Erik Christensen and Adam Hall were called for holding penalties 1:01 apart to give the Devils a 58-second two-man advantage. They only got one shot during the two-man advantage, but just as the Christensen penalty expired and he was trying to get back into the play, Jamie Langenbrunner threw a perfect cross-ice pass to Zach Parise at the side of the net for a tap-in goal past Fleury to give the Devils a 1-0 lead at 14:50.
Parise has scored two goals against the Penguins this season and four in his career.
Pittsburgh actually had its best chance to break Brodeur in the second period while killing a penalty. With nine seconds remaining on a holding penalty to Colby Armstrong, Crosby poked the puck up the left wing boards and the Penguins blue line, got his own pass and went in alone on Brodeur.
Crosby cut across the ice into the slot, but didn’t make much of a move as the puck rolled on edge. He tried to beat Brodeur to the glove side, but the veteran netminder got in front of it and held the Penguins off the board.
“The puck just wouldn’t settle down for me and I just tried to get it away,” Crosby said. “I couldn’t deke and I couldn’t get it where I wanted. It was just a bad break.”
Parise scored the second New Jersey goal thanks in part to Crosby, who was called for a retaliation penalty for tripping Clarkson in the neutral zone. After Parise, again set up by Langenbrunner, scored at 2:33, Crosby didn’t even get a chance to step out of the box before he was slapped with another minor for unsportsmanlike conduct.
After the Malkin goal the Penguins had several chances to tie the game, including a brief two-nman advantage with just over seven minutes remaining in regulation, but they came away empty.
“It’s not like we didn’t have chances, we had some pressure down there and we didn’t score,” Sykora said. “That’s the way it was.”