NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur was asked if efforts like the one he exhibited in a 3-2 shootout victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Friday would force him to continue playing instead of contemplating retirement at the end of the season.
The 39-year-old goalie, who owns the NHL records for career wins, shutouts and games played, sat back and smiled.
"Well, maybe if I keep playing like that, I won't retire," he said.
Brodeur was rock-solid for the Devils in turning aside 36 shots, including 14 in the third period and overtime when the determined Ducks were shooting from every angle in search of their fourth straight road victory.
But Brodeur simply wouldn't let it happen. Patrik Elias scored in the third round of the shootout before Brodeur denied Ryan Getzlaf on the ensuing shot to give the Devils their seventh victory in the last nine games (7-1-1) at Prudential Center.
"Marty played as good as I've seen him play in three years," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I thought he was tremendous out there."
Brodeur's effort almost came in a losing cause. Getzlaf thought he had ended the game for the Ducks 1:10 into overtime when the puck went off his skate blade and past Brodeur. But following a video review, it was ruled that the Ducks captain kicked the puck into the net and the goal was waved off. After the puck crossed the line, Brodeur immediately turned to the official to state his case.
"For me, I could see that he kind of gave it a little heel kick to move the puck towards the net," Brodeur said. "If he doesn't do that, it might have just stayed on his blade. To me, it was obvious. I was pretty confident they would disallow it. [Anton] Volchenkov made a good play to tie [Getzlaf's] stick up so he only had a chance to kick it in."
Getzlaf thought differently.
"[Volchenkov] tied my stick up and I was just going to the net," Getzlaf said. "It was like I was just stopping and it went off my skate and went in. They obviously saw it differently in Toronto."
Boudreau felt that the video replay was inconclusive and since it was ruled a goal on the ice, they play should have stood.
"I understand how difficult a job it is and I can understand they had an awful lot of criteria to look at," Boudreau said. "I bet they anguished over it for a minute. My belief is that if it was called no goal, that I wouldn't have overturned it. If it was called a goal, I wouldn't have overturned it either."
After the overtime ended without a goal, New Jersey's Ilya Kovalchuk and Anaheim's Teemu Selanne traded scores in the opening round of the tiebreaker. Jonas Hiller (25 saves) and Brodeur matched saves in the second round before Elias beat Hiller and Brodeur stopped Getzlaf for the win.
Brodeur has won six of his last seven starts, allowing 13 goals in that span.
"I felt good," Brodeur said. "As a team, we worked really hard to win this hockey game. We played against a desperate team that's playing well right now, so we definitely needed a great effort from everybody."
The victory, New Jersey's 10th in 13 shootouts this season, lifted them into fifth place in the East with 70 points. Anaheim is 3-0-2 on its eight-game road trip and has 58 points, seven behind eighth-place Los Angeles in the West.
The Ducks were 20 points out of eighth place on Jan. 6, but have been one of the NHL's hottest teams since then.
"There's been no quit in this team since the beginning of January," Boudreau said. "They just keep battling. There are a lot of guys with star power and there's an awful lot of no-names who are working their tail off and doing a heck of a job."
The Ducks, who peppered Brodeur with 13 shots in the third period, pulled into a 2-2 tie when the unlikeliest of goal-scorers, Ex-Devils defenseman Sheldon Brookbank, connected for his first in 167 games off a shot from the right circle with 2:13 left in regulation. Brookbank last celebrated a goal March 31, 2009.
"I don't mind a 5-1 win, but the tight games are fun too," Brodeur said. "You have to challenge yourself to kind of make big plays at the right time in a big game. You want to be out there when everything is on the line."
Brodeur was called upon early and often in the third with his team holding a precarious 2-1 lead. After denying a blast from the point from defenseman Francois Beauchemin with the left pad, he turned away Niklas Hagman from the left hash with the glove five minutes into the period.
"Marty was our best player," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "We were a little bit off. They are at the top of their game, and are a difficult team to play against. They put us in trouble a few times, but [Brodeur] was our best player."
With the Devils on their first power-play of the game midway through the third, Brodeur needed to stack the pads and slide to his left to turn back Corey Perry on a shorthanded breakaway at 13:28.
Following a scoreless opening period, the teams picked up the pace in the second by combining for 21 shots and three goals in the second. Ducks forward Bobby Ryan limped off the ice after the second when he got tangled up with Devils defenseman Volchenkov.
Despite suffering an apparent left leg injury, Ryan returned for spot duty in the third.
"It's something during the game that you don't quite feel, but it'll be sore tomorrow," Ryan said. "I told Bruce I wanted to keep trying and keep going. The puck was right there and [Volchenkov] and me were both going. He was behind me and kind of came down from behind and went into me awkwardly."
Boudreau expects Ryan to be in the lineup on Sunday against the Florida Panthers.
After spotting the Devils a 2-0 lead, the Ducks pared the deficit to one at 16:08 when Perry connected for his team-leading 29th of the season and sixth in the last four games by swatting home a backhand attempt off a rebound from the slot. Getzlaf took an initial blast from the top of the right circle that Brodeur stopped, but couldn't control.
The Devils had gained a 2-0 advantage when Alexei Ponikarovsky took a feed from Dainius Zubrus off a turnover while skating through the slot before sweeping home his 10th of the season at 10:56. The goal came seconds after Brodeur made back-to-back stops at the other end on Matt Beleskey and Nick Bonino, who was stoned with the glove hand at the right post.
Since being acquired in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes on Jan. 20, Ponikarovsky has produced three goals and nine points in 11 games with New Jersey.
New Jersey took a 1-0 edge just 1:25 into the second when rookie Adam Henrique knocked in a rebound from the slot, his 15th of the season, after battling with Beauchemin. Kovalchuk took the initial shot from the top edge of the right circle before Henrique took two swipes at the puck.
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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