-- Martin Brodeur
has simply been a beast against the Pittsburgh Penguins
With another 34 saves in Friday's 3-1 win at Prudential Center, the Devils' future Hall of Fame goalie now has a 5-0-0 record, a remarkable .981 save percentage and a miniscule 0.60 goals-against average against New Jersey's main competition for the Atlanta Division title.
He'll try to make it a perfect 6-for-6 on Wednesday night when the Penguins return to the Garden State in yet another game that could go a long way in determining the division winner.
Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby
is banking on the dam finally breaking.
"He's played really well against us this year, but I don't think we have allowed that to frustrate us," said Crosby, who did beat Brodeur with a low shot through the five-hole just 2:25 into Friday's game for his League-leading 45th goal of the season. "I think we have done some really good things and kept coming at him, but he's kept responding. We're hoping eventually we're going to get some more behind him."
Crosby emphatically believes Brodeur is not in the Penguins' heads -- even though all signs point to that being the case. Brodeur has given up only three goals on 161 shots in the season series to date.
Crosby has factored into all three of those goals, but before he scored early in Friday's game, Brodeur had a personal shutout streak against Pittsburgh of 170 minutes and 53 seconds (or four months, really) dating back to Ruslan Fedotenko
's goal 11:32 into the first period on Nov. 12.
By contrast, the Devils have 17 goals in five games against the Penguins this season.
"You know what, we'd be lying if we said we don't expect Marty to play well," Crosby said. "At the same time we play against a lot of really good goalies and we find ways to beat them. So, no, he's not in our heads. We respect him. Personally, I have a lot of respect for him. I know the games he has played against us he has been the difference in at least a couple of them, but I still have all the confidence in the world that we're able to put pucks by him."
Brodeur arguably played his best game in a month and a half Friday. The last time he gave up fewer than two goals was Jan. 27, when he stopped 31 shots but the Devils lost 2-1 at Buffalo in a shootout.
He made 12 saves in the first period on Friday, seven more in the second and 15 in the third period -- including seven in the final 10 minutes with the Penguins' down a pair.
"He played as well as he can play," Devils coach Jacques Lemaire
said. "He was on top, very solid. He had some tough shots that he made great saves on. He was good."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl