Martin Brodeur is back, baby!
In a virtual must win game, the New Jersey Devils shined and were able to defeat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1 and avoid the season series sweep by Carolina.
The Devils welcomed back the greatest goaltender, Martin Brodeur, who was returning after a 13 game absence with a pinched nerved in his back.
The Devils were in need of their starting goaltender to be back healthy in the Devils lineup because Johan Hedberg was certainly not getting it done during the past 13 games with Brodeur out. In the recent stretch of games in which Hedberg started the Devils are 3-5-2 in their last ten games. The Devils obviously were a different team and couldn't get anything going.
Brodeur was quick to make his comeback as he made a quick save on Eric Stall. He had to make 10 saves in the first 7 minutes of the opening perion. Stopping them all, he was officially back to work.
Loktionov also made he return to New Jersey after missing the previous game vs. New York.
It gets better. With New Jersey on the powerplay, there was a delayed slashing penalty on Marek Zidlicky. The Hurricanes took a shot on goal which deflected off Brodeur and a Hurricanes player cleared the zone and the puck trickled off the boards and slid into the Hurricanes net. Dan Ellis was heading to the bench because of the delayed penalty. Since Brodeur was the last player to touch the puck, he was credited with the PPG. That was Brodeur's 3rd career goal. Brodeur's goal also gave him more goals than Danny Briere of Philadelphia over the past month.
The first period was dominated by the Carolina Hurricanes. They were able to maintain sustained pressure on the Devils and get a heavy amount of shots on Brodeur. However, New Jersey's defense was just stellar as they rose to the occasion and didn't allow many good chances for Carolina.
The Devils only managed to get 4 shots on goal in the first as their offense continued to struggles to get pucks in the net.
The Hurricanes put 11 shots on goal, which were all stopped by Brodeur.
Also worth noting that since Dan Ellis was unable to get to the bench, he was credited with the goal allowed on the goal by Martin Brodeur.
The Devils played nearly flawless hockey in the second period as they extended their lead to 3-0 over the Carolina Hurricanes.
Adam Henrique (10th goal of the season) and Peter Harrold (2nd goal of the season) both contributed in the scoring for New Jersey which were scored 46 seconds apart from each other.
Ryan Carter came close to also scoring for New Jersey but his backhand was just wide of the net.
The play of the New Jersey was 100% better than in the first. They played extremely well and outhustled the Carolina Hurricanes. The Devils were able to get back to playing their type of hockey that they love to play and that which made them successful in the first quarter of the season.
The Devils were able to throw 12 shots on Ellis.
Carolina, a miserable 3.
The Devils for the first time in a long time were able to feel comfortable out there skating not just because they had Martin Brodeur back, but also because they had a comfortable lead for once.
In the third, Jeff Skinner was able to sneak a shot passed Martin Brodeur and score on the powerplay and make it a 3-1 game late in the third.
With Eric Stall in the box for tripping, Loktionov rang a shot off the post and in for his 5th goal of the season and wrapped the game up for New Jersey.
Dan Ellis left late in third for Carolina with an apparent hand injury.
Brodeurs in his return from injury was able to score a goal, stopped 22 of 23 shots, and get the win!
Tonight seemed liked a good indication of good things to come for New Jersey going forth. The Devils for the first time this year were on the outside of the playoff picture and now were fighting for a spot. With Martin Brodeur back, they are waiting on Zubrus, Tallinder, and Poni to get back healthy so that they are able to have their full squad back together.
New Jersey's only concerns in my opinion are that the consistency needs to be there more for them to have any chance at a playoff run, let alone making the playoffs. The Devils have not scored much and as a result of it have struggled to put up wins in key games. The goaltending hasn't been 100% as we all saw and that is very concerning. But, granted that it wasn't Martin Brodeur between the pipes, I'm going to let it pass.
The Devils will be back in action Saturday @ 7:00PM to take on the Florida Panthers at the Prudential Center. Until Saturday, enjoy the win and Go Devils!