Five years without winning a playoff series is a long time for a franchise that's as accustomed to success as the New Jersey Devils
. That's why they hope ending their postseason drought with a first-round win against Florida is a harbinger of good things to come.
The Devils got past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2007 by outlasting Florida 3-2 in double overtime on Thursday night to win Game 7 in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series. Now it's on to Philadelphia and a rematch with the team that wiped them out in five games in the opening round two years ago.
"Winning a playoff series goes a long way," said goaltender Martin Brodeur, who made 43 saves and is now 6-4 in 10 career Game 7 starts. "I think for people it's just a confidence and sometimes you need adversity. …The first round, I think when you haven't been in the playoffs, especially the year before and it's been struggling getting out of the first round, when you get through that it feels good for a day and then after that we've got to face the Flyers."
By the time the game ended at 12:17 a.m. ET, Thursday night had turned into Friday morning -- marking the 20th anniversary of Brodeur's first NHL playoff game, on April 27, 1992 against the Rangers.
The win means that the NHL's winningest regular-season goaltender will get to spend his 40th birthday doing what he does best -- the Devils will host Philadelphia in Game 4 a week from Sunday.
With 43 saves, including a handful of series-savers, Brodeur looked as sharp as ever.
"He was outstanding, especially in the first overtime and late in the third period," Devils coach Pete DeBoer said. "He was our best player tonight and he had to be or we don't win."