NEWARK , N.J. -- Martin Brodeur will have to wait at least another couple of days for his next chance to break the NHL record for shutouts. On Wednesday night, he had to settle for a victory.
Less than 48 hours after equaling the NHL record with career shutout No. 103, Brodeur had a 3-0 lead in the second period but had to settle for leading the New Jersey Devils to a 4-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Devils play their next four games at home -- against Florida on Friday, Philadelphia on Saturday, Montreal on Dec. 16 and Ottawa on Dec. 18 before traveling to Atlanta on Dec. 19. So it isn't inconceivable that Brodeur could past Tery Sawchuk to set the shutout record and surpass the record for games played in a career within a span of seven days. Brodeur has played in 1,026 regular-season contests, three fewer than Patrick Roy.
The 12,013 fans at the Prudential Center began to hope they'd see the historic shutout after the Devils took a 3-0 lead on Andy Greene's second goal of the game 6:05 into the second. But the 'Canes quickly punctured those dreams when Brandon Sutter -- son of former Devils coach Brent Sutter -- scored on a long wrist shot from well above the left circle that ticked the stick of defenseman Mark Fraser and went past Brodeur at 6:48. Tuomo Ruutu made it a one-goal game when he beat Brodeur from the left circle during a power play at 8:46.
"I wasn't really thinking about (the shutout) there," Brodeur said. "I've tied the record and now I'm not really looking at it; it's going to happen when it happens. If the goal happened with four minutes left, maybe that would have been tough."
However, Brodeur was perfect the rest of the way. He stoned Eric Staal on consecutive shots at the right post early in the third period and stopped two shots by Ruutu less than two minutes later. Rob Niedermayer hit the empty net with one second remaining for the final margin.
Devils coach Jacques Lemaire was happy with the two points, but not with the way his team played after taking the 3-0 lead.
"We turned the puck over at their blue line three or four times in a row and we stopped playing in their zone," Lemaire said. "We were being fancy and trying to make plays that were hard to make. (Carolina) came back and gained momentum but Marty made the big saves at certain times."
Added Brodeur: "We got the early jump on them but we have to play a little better when we do get these leads."
The Devils improved to 21-7-1. They've won seven of their last eight games overall and nine of 10 at the Prudential Center.
Carolina fell to 1-11-3 on the road and 1-10-3 when trailing after two periods. The Devils are a perfect 14-0-0 when leading after 40 minutes.
"They didn't give up," Greene said of the Hurricanes, who won for the first time on the roads this season at Pittsburgh on Monday night. "They're a team that's going to fight hard every night and that's what they did. We started to turn the puck over a little too much and they took advantage of that."
New Jersey opened a two-goal lead in the first period when it outshot the Hurricanes, 10-7. Patrik Elias scored his 299th career goal at 11:11 when his centering attempt from deep in the right circle deflected off the skate of Carolina defenseman Aaron Ward and past goalie Cam Ward, who was making his first start in 14 games since leaving a Nov. 7 contest against Columbus when he suffered a cut near the left knee from the skate of forward Rick Nash in the first period.
"In the first period, I was a little bit shaky and a little bit uncomfortable, but I thought I settled down as the game went on," said Ward, who finished with 28 saves. "I thought I played better in the second and third period, and towards the end of the game I started feeling like myself."
Since a 25-save, 7-2 victory over the Florida Panthers on Oct. 9, Ward has gone 0-8-3. He could hardly be faulted on both Devils' goals in the opening frame.
"Once again, we competed until the end and I thought we were really pressing the issue in the second and third periods," Ward said. "But the Devils do such a good job of clogging up that slot area -- it makes it very difficult for our players to get pucks through to Marty."
Greene made it 2-0 at 17:53 when his hard wrist shot from the point soared over Ward's right shoulder into the net. Carolina's keeper was completely screened from seeing the puck as Devils forwards Niedermayer and Jay Pandolfo and Carolina defenseman Brett Carson were jamming the crease.
Jamie Langenbrunner, who received the primary assist on the goal, extended his point-scoring streak to six games.
Greene's second of the game, a power-play goal at 6:05 of the second period, made it 3-0. Greene, who scored for the first time in 12 games, hit the Carolina blue line before dishing to Zach Parise on the right wing. Parise's shot from the right circle deflected off the pad of Cam Ward and onto the stick of Greene for the putaway.
"I'm just trying to create something on the power play there," Greene said. "(Andrew) Alberts stepped up and got me pretty good (with a check to the ice) but I figured I'd just keep going to the net and Zach got it on goal and I was there for the rebound; I got lucky."
|Patrik Elias (4) ASST: Niclas Bergfors (11), Zach Parise (18)|
1 - 0 NJD
|Andy Greene (4) ASST: Jamie Langenbrunner (20), Jay Pandolfo (3)|
2 - 0 NJD
|PPG - Andy Greene (5) ASST: Zach Parise (19)|
3 - 0 NJD
|Brandon Sutter (7) ASST: Joni Pitkanen (10)|
3 - 1 NJD
|PPG - Tuomo Ruutu (7) ASST: Jussi Jokinen (11), Joni Pitkanen (11)|
3 - 2 NJD
|SHG - EN - Rob Niedermayer (4) ASST: NONE|
4 - 2 NJD
|Erik Cole Boarding against Bryce Salvador|
|Mike Mottau Tripping against Jussi Jokinen|
|Ray Whitney Hi-sticking against Mike Mottau|
|Rob Niedermayer Hooking against Erik Cole|
|Erik Cole Slashing against Johnny Oduya|
|Tuomo Ruutu Hooking against Bryce Salvador|
|Mike Mottau Boarding against Tuomo Ruutu|
|Aaron Ward Holding against Vladimir Zharkov|
|Bryce Salvador Cross checking against Eric Staal|