Devils' Brodeur happy to be back on the ice

Friday, 10.04.2013 / 11:58 PM
Mike G. Morreale  - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Martin Brodeur was happy with a lot of things in his 2013-14 season debut -- just not the outcome.

After sitting out the New Jersey Devils' season opener, a 3-0 road loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday, the 41-year-old was in goal Friday night when the New York Islanders came to Prudential Center. The chants of "Marty, Marty" started during pregame festivities and continued to the end of the game, a 4-3 shootout win for the Islanders that spoiled the Devils' home opener.

"It's nice but kind of hard when you're on the ice [during the pregame ovation]. You don't really realize who they're cheering for," he said. "I'm happy to be here. I've played here all my career and hopefully the fans have appreciated me throughout the years. It's always nice to get a little recognition."

Since the death of his father, Denis, on Sept. 26, Brodeur hadn't played in a game for the Devils and had practiced sparingly. But after shaking off some early rust, he and Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov put on quite a show. Brodeur's NHL-record streak of 18 straight season-opening starts for the Devils came to an end in Pittsburgh when Cory Schneider got the call, but he was more than ready for the team's first home game.

Brodeur, who made 23 saves in regulation and overtime, admitted he felt good throughout the night.

"I haven't played a game in two weeks, let alone an NHL game that counts," Brodeur said. "So, for me, it was good. I enjoyed the way I played.

"My energy level was there."

Brodeur did admit that he would have liked to have back the first goal scored by Michael Grabner midway through the opening period. Grabner split the defense and slid a wrist shot from the left circle under Brodeur's pad to even the game 1-1. Brodeur came out of his crease but couldn't get down fast enough against Grabner, who also scored in the second period and set up Frans Nielsen's goal in the third.

"I'd like to get that one goal back … I felt I made the right decision on the goal but just didn't get lucky," he said. "It snuck through my pad. For the most part, I felt I made the saves that were important in the hockey game. Not all games are going to be pretty, but I found a way and I felt pretty good."

Brodeur denied five attempts in the shootout before Matt Moulson's wrister into the top left corner in the sixth round of the tiebreaker gave the Islanders the victory.

"I thought we did a great job on their better players, but their speed was a little hard to contain, especially that [Josh] Bailey line with [Michael] Grabner and [Frans] Nielsen," Brodeur said.

Brodeur was called upon to make several acrobatic saves at key points throughout the contest, including a blocker stop on Grabner's breakaway attempt with just over 10 minutes remaining in regulation to keep the game even at 3-3.

"It definitely wasn't close to being our best [game] and we have a lot to improve upon," center Travis Zajac said. "It would have been nice to give Marty a little support in that shootout. He stopped six or seven for us, and that's the disappointing part."

Brodeur acknowledged that on a team full of new faces, patience will be needed as players become accustomed to their new roles.

"I think it's a slow process; everyone wants it to be a fast process but the fact is there a lot of new players learning a lot of things about our system," he said. "We must jell as lines and as teammates and that sometimes takes some time. Our game wasn't bad [on Friday]. I thought we accomplished a lot as a team, but it would have been more fun to get the two points."

One thing that wasn't missing was noise.

"There was great energy in the building; it was like playoff hockey," Brodeur said. "It was pretty tense in the third period. It's fun to come back to a building like this. For so many years, that wasn't the case but, in the last few years, the following has been better and better each year."

The Devils head out on a five-game road trip that begins Monday in Edmonton. Brodeur feels the trip will be good for a team with a lot of newcomers.

"We're not used to seeing those western hockey teams; we didn't play them last year," Brodeur said. "They have a good young team in Edmonton, a new coach in Vancouver and new style in Winnipeg. But I think this trip could be good for our group; it's a chance for some team-building and getting to know each other."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mikemorrealeNHL

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