Success in overtime during the playoffs has been one of the few things that has eluded Martin Brodeur during his career -- he entered this year's playoffs with a record of 12 wins and 21 losses. But as he prepares to turn 40 on Sunday, Brodeur is having the most successful overtime spring of his career.
Brodeur got the win Thursday night when Alexei Ponikarovsky's goal gave the New Jersey Devils a 4-3 win against the Philadelphia Flyers and a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference Semifinal series. It was the fourth time in their last five games that the Devils have gone to OT -- and the third victory, all with Brodeur in goal.
The three overtime wins are the most Brodeur has ever had in a single playoff year. Thursday's win was also Brodeur's first in four playoff overtime games against the Flyers, who beat him in 1995 and 2010 before doing it again in a 4-3 victory on Sunday.
Thursday's victory was Brodeur's last as a 39-year-old -- he turns 40 on Sunday, when the Devils host Game 4 (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC. RDS).
Back in form -- One reason Ponikarovsky had the chance to be the overtime hero was the fact that the Devils have reverted to the form that enabled them to set a modern record for penalty-killing percentage.
New Jersey allowed just 27 power-play goals while killing off 89.6 percent of opposition power plays this season, the best showing ever. But the Devils were shredded for nine PPGs on just 27 power plays by Florida in the opening round.
However, the Devils have looked much more like themselves against the Flyers, allowing just two goals on 16 tries (87.5 percent) to a team that went 12-for-23 against Pittsburgh in the opening round. In Game 3, the Devils were at their best in overtime, killing off two power plays while allowing just one shot.
Uncharted territory -- The Los Angeles Kings are one win away from doing something that no team has done under the current playoff format -- eliminating the top two seeds in one conference in successive rounds.
The eighth-seeded Kings bounced top-seeded Vancouver in the first round and are one win away from sweeping second-seeded St. Louis after beating the Blues 4-2 at Staples Center on Thursday night. They'll go for the sweep Sunday afternoon (3 p.m. ET; NBC, TSN, RDS) in front of what's sure to be a raucous sellout crowd at Staples Center.
Since the current format was adopted in 1994, 10 eighth-seeded teams have knocked off top seeds in the opening round. Just two teams -- the 2006 Edmonton Oilers and the 2010 Montreal Canadiens -- have won their second-round series, but neither team had to beat the No. 2 seed to do so.
The Kings are trying to match the '06 Oilers as the only eighth seed to make the Stanley Cup Final. L.A. hasn't gotten as far as the conference finals since 1993, when Wayne Gretzky led the Kings to their only trip to the Stanley Cup Final.
The Rangers outlasted the Caps 2-1 in a game that went 54:41 into overtime and lasted more than 4 1/2 hours. There were 95 shots on goal, 81 blocked shots -- and two teams full of exhausted players after Marian Gaborik ended the Rangers' longest game since 1939.
It was the 45th time a Stanley Cup Playoff game has been decided in three or more overtimes -- and the fact that the visiting Rangers won the game shouldn't have been surprising. The road team has won 31 of the 45 extra-long games, including 20 of the last 28. Washington has lost all four such games -- all at home -- while the Rangers are 1-2 at home and 2-2 on the road.
The Rangers' seven trips past 2 OTs are the third-most of any team. Detroit is tops with 12 (five wins) and Montreal is next with nine (four wins).