The first four games of Martin Brodeur
's comeback from a 50-game layoff couldn’t have gone better. Game 5 couldn't have been much worse.
Brodeur allowed just four goals in winning all four games after returning following a left bicep injury that required surgery. The New York Islanders
matched that total in the first 21:40 on Saturday, drove him from the net after scoring six times in two periods and went on to a 7-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils
before a stunned-but-delighted crowd of 15,524 at the Nassau Coliseum.
"I would like to have played better," said Brodeur, who remained three victories short of tying Patrick Roy
's NHL record of 551. "I felt good, but it just wasn't going my way."
It was a big day for Isles' forward Sean Bergenheim
, who capped his first NHL hat trick by zipping the puck from the right boards into an empty net with less than a second remaining.
"My first NHL goal was an unbelievable feeling," Bergenheim said. "My first NHL hat trick gives me that same feeling."
Bergenheim now has six goals in his last five games and a career-best 14 this season.
"Whatever he’s eating, I want some of it," teammate Blake Comeau
joked. "He’s playing well for us lately. He’s working hard, he’s playing with speed and playing physical as well."
That's more than anyone could say about the Devils, whose defensive zone coverage was awful -- not what they needed on a day when Brodeur was ordinary.
"They should be embarrassed tonight, because they got embarrassed by a bunch of young players that played hard and competed," a very unhappy Devils coach Brent Sutter
said after his team lost to the 30th-place Islanders for the second time in 15 days. The 4-0 loss on Feb. 21 was the last game before Brodeur returned him his injury. "They had seven goals against us. That tells you something."
It was the first time Brodeur has allowed six goals in 162 games since Oct. 21, 2006, and he struggled from the start. Radek Martinek
hammered home a long rebound 1:42 into the game, Kyle Okposo
converted Josh Bailey
's brilliant pass for a power-play goal at 10:59 and Jeff Tambellini
beat Brodeur between the legs for a breakaway goal at 14:05.
"They came out and played hard," Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner
said. "We weren't ready, and they took advantage of that."
's deflection beat Joey MacDonald
29 seconds into the second period, but Bergenheim went to the net and rammed home a rebound at 1:40. Langenbrunner beat MacDonald from the left circle at 4:01, but Comeau scored a power-play goal at the 13-minute mark to make it 5-2, and Bergenheim again went to the net to finish off a pass from rookie Mike Iggulden
"The first one, Iggy made a great play," Bergenheim said. "The second one, I just moved in front, and had room to shoot."
When the teams came out for the third period, Brodeur was watching from the bench as Kevin Weekes
went between the pipes.
"That doesn't happen too often," Isles coach Scott Gordon
said of knocking out the future Hall of Famer. "We talked about getting the puck to the net and tried to advantage of some of his rebounds, and we did."
scored a power-play goal for New Jersey at 6:48 of the third period, but Bergenheim's empty-netter gave the Isles their biggest offensive game since Dec. 3, 2006, when they beat the Rangers 7-4.
"I would like to have played better. I felt good, but it just wasn't going my way." -- Martin Brodeur
"We skated really well and got pucks to the net," said Bergenheim, the Isles' first pick in the 2002 Entry Draft. "We skated and put pressure on them. That's how we won today."
Material from wire services and team online media was used in this report.