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Brodeur's gem gives Devils 1-0 win over 'Canes

by Brian Compton

Brian Compton | Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Martin Brodeur followed an incredibly tough loss with an incredibly tough performance on Thursday night -- one that allowed him to reach another milestone.

Forty-eight hours after losing Game 4 on a goal scored with :00.2 seconds left in regulation, Brodeur stopped all 44 shots he faced as the New Jersey Devils took a 3-2 series lead with a pulsating 1-0 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 5 of this Eastern Conference quarterfinal at the Prudential Center.

It was the 23rd postseason shutout of Brodeur's career, tying him with Patrick Roy for the most in Stanley Cup history. During the regular season, Brodeur surpassed Roy for the most wins (557) in League history. Brodeur has never faced more than 40 shots in any of his 101 career regular-season shutouts.

New Jersey has Carolina on the brink of elimination and can move on to the second round with a win in Game 6 at the RBC Center on Sunday. The Devils have No. 30 to thank for it.

"It's nice, but it's all about winning," Brodeur said of tying Roy. "Shutouts will happen when you play so many games in the playoffs. It's nice to accomplish. The atmosphere was unbelievable."

Nineteen of Brodeur's stops came in the second period, most of them after David Clarkson scored the game's lone goal, a power-play deflection past Cam Ward at 11:22. The Hurricanes outshot New Jersey 9-2 in the period following the goal.

But Brodeur was up to the task -- despite the fact that he cut his ankle in a collision with Carolina forward Chad LaRose late in the first period. The blade of LaRose's skate connected with Brodeur, but that couldn't prevent No. 30 from edging Ward in a goaltending duel for the ages.

"I think he just lost his footing," Brodeur said of  LaRose. "His skate cut through my sock and cut my ankle a little bit. When you get cut by a skate, you don't know what's going on. When I saw it just got the surface, I felt more like a playoff-hockey player. It's kind of bruised up a little bit, but it feels alright."

That was music to coach Brent Sutter's ears.

"He took a skate in the back of the leg, but obviously he ended up being OK," Sutter said. "But at that point in time, you're kind of wondering what might have happened. But obviously, he was fine."

The Devils got the game's only goal by making the Hurricanes pay for a tripping call against Patrick Eaves, Defenseman Andy Greene -- who replaced the injured Bryce Salvador in the lineup -- fired a shot from the right point that Clarkson was able to redirect past a screened Ward for his second goal of the playoffs.

Ward was almost as sensational Brodeur -- he made 41 saves but went home with nothing more than the knowledge that he'd played about as well as he could.

"It was just a great game," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. "It's difficult to take a loss at this point in the series, but you had great goaltending. We had over 70 shot attempts in that game. There was great goaltending because there was great offense on that ice tonight."

Carolina dominated the last minutes of the second period after Clarkson's goal, but failed to get a shot past Brodeur. The future Hall of Famer made several tremendous stops, including a glove save on a wrister by Eaves with 6:49 left. Brodeur also made two saves in the final 25 seconds of the period after Colin White went off for holding at 19:06, securing the Devils' one-goal lead after 40 minutes.

"I was tested a lot," Brodeur said. "A lot of crashing the net. It was vintage playoff hockey on both sides. For a 1-0 game, 80-something shots … they saw a lot of chances and pretty good goaltending on both sides. There was no break."

Both goaltenders were dazzling in the third period. Brodeur managed to get his pad on a wrister by Staal from between the circles, and Ward followed about four minutes later with a gorgeous glove save on a slap shot from Zach Parise. Ward later denied Jay Pandolfo on a breakaway, only to be matched by a tremendous pad stop by Brodeur on a one-timer from point-blank range by LaRose with 4:21 remaining.

"He's been great in all the games we've played," Brodeur said of Ward. "Tonight was no different. He made the stops in the right time of the game. It took a tip for us to score a goal on him. The margin of error for our defensive squad was next to none for the way he played."

Brodeur kept the shutout intact when he gobbled up Ray Whitney's one-timer from the outside of the left circle with 18.9 seconds left. John Madden and Brendan Shanahan followed with great defensive plays to clear the puck out of the Devils' zone one final time.

All the Hurricanes could do was hope that a return to the RBC Center would give them a boost in Game 6.

"It was tough to swallow, but you win as a team and you lose as a team and it just didn't happen tonight," Ward said. "Who would have thought one goal would decide a game when there were 80-plus shots? Marty played well. He's one of the top goaltenders for a reason."

Following a time out at 10:53 of the third period, Eric Staal put a shot on net off the ensuing faceoff. A few seconds later, Brodeur had to make a sharp save on Chad LaRose's blast from the right wing. About 15 seconds after that, LaRose carried the puck between two Devils defenders and found himself all alone in front of Brodeur for a shot that could have tied the game but the goalie stopped.

Playing for the first time in the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Devils defenseman Andy Greene assisted on the game's opening goal when his slap shot from the right point was tipped by David Clarkson past Cam Ward. Greene played a calm, confident game on defense.

The Hurricanes nearly scored when Ryan Bayda took a pass from Jussi Jokinen on the right boards and fired a shot at the Devils' net. Jokinen, being guarded by Niclas Havelid, tipped the puck off the near left post. It bounced off the post into Martin Brodeur's back, slid slowly through the crease, altered course off his goalie pants and nearly crossed the line before Brodeur covered it with his glove.

When the Devils scored the first goal with 8:38 left in the second period, they had a 29-19 shots advantage. Over the next 11:22, the Hurricanes outshot the Devils 9-2, including three power-play shots in the first 53.2 seconds of Colin White's roughing penalty at the end of the period. The Hurricanes had one more shot in the 1:07 remaining in the penalty at the start of the third period.

Two nights after complaining that he was interfered with in his crease on the game-winning goal, Martin Brodeur came out of his crease to collect a loose puck that Chad LaRose was chasing. The two players collided about 15 feet outside the crease and LaRose's skate blade cut Brodeur on the ankle. Less than a minute later, Brodeur was penalized for interfering with Matt Cullen as the Hurricanes center skated in front of the Devils' crease.

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