NEWARK, N.J. - Not even the second-winningest goaltender in NHL history seems to be able to pull the New Jersey Devils out of their early season funk.
Martin Brodeur did everything he could Friday night, but it wasn't enough as New Jersey fell 1-0 to the New York Islanders and Brodeur was denied his 500th career victory for the third time.
Josef Vasicek's short-handed goal in the second period was all the Islanders needed in front of Rick DiPietro, who made 26 saves and notched his second shutout of the season and his third win over the Devils in 2007-2008.
Brodeur, who made 25 saves, has been stuck on 499 wins since beating Philadelphia on Nov. 8 as he aims to become the second NHL goaltender after Patrick Roy (551) to reach 500. Since then, he lost to the Islanders on Nov. 10 and to the New York Rangers on Wednesday.
He admitted after Friday's game that the quest - and the struggles that have defined the early part of the Devils' season - is wearing on him.
"I'm definitely sweating the next game," he said. "When I go in there, I'm used to winning; now, I'm losing more than I'm winning and it's not fun, for me or the team."
New York, playing back-to-back nights after losing 3-2 at Pittsburgh on Thursday night, snapped a two-game losing streak and has won five of its past seven games.
New Jersey has dropped five of its past seven and has scored 11 goals in that span. On Friday, the Devils put pressure on DiPietro for good portions of the second and third periods as coach Brent Sutter mixed his lines to try and jump-start his team's offence, but to no avail.
Their best chance came with just over five minutes remaining in the game when Patrik Elias split two defencemen and missed wide to DiPietro's left from just outside the crease.
"Rick has been playing great," Vasicek said. "We know going in that he's going to give us a chance to win every time we step on the ice."
Vasicek's goal early in the second period was the result of a gaffe.
Devils defenceman Mike Mottau caught his skate in a rut and fell, while skating backward about four yards in front of Brodeur. Vasicek scooped up the puck and, after deking the goaltender a few times, bounced a shot in off Brodeur's blocker and over his right shoulder.
"He stopped and caught an edge and I was there," Vasicek said. "I certainly didn't expect to get the puck like that, but I was happy to get it."
New Jersey was already playing without defenceman Colin White, out since the pre-season with an eye injury, and suffered another blow when Paul Martin was scratched after suffering what the team has called a lower-body injury Wednesday night against the New York Rangers.
Martin's absence was felt all evening and particularly in the second period. In addition to the mistake that led to Vasicek's goal, an errant pass in the Devils' zone set up Andy Sutton for a shot that beat Brodeur but hit the crossbar, one of two Islanders shots in the period that caught iron.
Those were about the only breaks the Devils got in a game - and a season, so far - in which most of the bounces have gone the other way.
"You create your own luck," Brodeur said. "You can't cry about not getting the bounces."
Notes: Vasicek's goal was his seventh of the season, one more than he had all last season ... D Freddy Meyer and D Marc-Andre Bergeron were scratches for New York, while C Mike Rupp was scratched for New Jersey ... Mottau hadn't dressed for three of New Jersey's previous four games before Friday.