Make it 111 and counting for Martin Brodeur
The future Hall of Famer stopped all 24 shots he faced for his 111th career shutout, and Ilya Kovalchuk
scored 53 seconds into overtime to lift the New Jersey Devils
to a 1-0 victory against the Buffalo Sabres
at HSBC Arena on Wednesday night.
Brodeur is the NHL's all-time leader in shutouts, 23 of which have been by a 1-0 score.
"It's not fun atmosphere-wise when you don't have a win under your belt," Brodeur told the Newark Star-Ledger. "It was a little chaotic."
After 60 scoreless minutes in regulation, Kovalchuk won it when he ripped a slap shot from the right circle that eluded goalie Ryan Miller
on the stick side for the winner. Miller made 34 saves for the Sabres (1-2-1), who have lost three straight since a season-opening win at Ottawa.
It was the first win as an NHL coach for John MacLean, who replaced Jacques Lemaire this summer. MacLean was so angry and frustrated at the team's morning skate that he sent his players off after just 20 minutes.
"It was almost like Mark Messier," Brodeur joked. "We have to be prepared to play a certain way and act a certain way. He wants us to act like a professional and do what we need to do to get ourselves ready, and he wasn't happy about what was going on at the morning skate."
"That was a good game … they played 60 minutes," MacLean said. "The effort's always been there. I thought they worked really smart tonight."
After playing with 15 only skaters Monday in a loss to Pittsburgh due to salary cap limitations and injuries to defenseman Anton Volchenkov
(broken nose) and forward Brian Rolston (groin), the Devils increased their roster to 16 versus Buffalo -- still two shy of a full allotment of players.
Once Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond cleared waivers and was assigned to Albany of the AHL, New Jersey freed up enough cap space to sign gritty forward Adam Mair and put him in the lineup against the Sabres, Mair's former team.
"We've had a lot of changes, we've had injuries, and we've played with 15 players, and now 16 players," Brodeur said. "It's been chaotic a little bit. So for us to finally get one under our belt, now we can start playing our season."
Buffalo played without ironman Jason Pominville
, whose streak of 336 consecutive games ended. Pominville, the team's third-leading scorer last season, sustained a concussion and gash under his eye after being hit into the boards from behind by Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson in Buffalo's loss to the Blackhawks on Monday. Hjalmarsson was given a two-game suspension by the NHL on Wednesday.
All three of the Sabres' losses have come at home, the first time since 1993 they've lost their first three in Buffalo.
"We're four games in, and there isn't anything to freak out about," defenseman Tyler Myers
said. "We had a lot of chances, we just didn't put them in."
Both teams return to action Friday night. New Jersey returns home to host Colorado, while Buffalo hosts Montreal.