Devils 5, Hurricanes 0
Missing the playoffs last season gave Martin Brodeur and the New
Jersey Devils a fresh appreciation for getting back in.
Brodeur posted his 119th career shutout and the Devils clinched
a spot in the postseason with a 5-0 rout of the listless Carolina
Hurricanes on Saturday night.
”I didn’t think it was going to bother me that much (last year,
but) … I was like, `Wow, I’m really missing this atmosphere,”’
Brodeur said. ”This year, it was an important thing for me to go
out and try to get in the playoffs, to get back at it.”
Ilya Kovalchuk had a goal and two assists, Petr Sykora added a
goal and an assist, David Clarkson, Ryan Carter and Zach Parise
also scored, and Patrik Elias had two assists.
New Jersey scored three goals in a 3:50 span and had no trouble
after that while wrapping up a return to the playoffs after a
Brodeur made 22 saves and moved one victory from having another
NHL record all to himself. His next win will give him 14 seasons
with at least 30 victories.
”Winning is what’s important, and if you get a shutout, most of
the time, you’ve got a win,” Brodeur said. ”It’s good to bring up
that number (119), kind of push the envelope for the next guy
coming trying to reach it. It doesn’t get old, regardless of how
you get them.”
Brian Boucher stopped 26 shots in his second appearance after
missing 43 games because of a groin injury. The Hurricanes have
lost four of five, and were playing 24 hours after an overtime loss
to Winnipeg eliminated them from the postseason race.
”The emotional letdown of not making the playoffs hit us,”
coach Kirk Muller said. ”It’s easy to say we’re going to go right
to the end, but I think, if anything, it obviously showed that guys
are disappointed and it affected our play tonight.”
The Devils entered needing just one point in their final four
games – or for Washington to miss out on a point – to sew up their
20th playoff berth in 22 seasons, and had an easy time earning it
and improving to 9-4-1 in its last 13 games.
”It’s step one,” New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer said. ”Now
that we’re in, you obviously want to make some noise. That’s where
we go from here.”
This one was decided in the final minute of the first period
with a sequence that helped put New Jersey up 2-0 early in the
While skating in on Brodeur, Carolina’s Jeff Skinner was taken
down by Anton Volchenkov and the Carolina teenager responded a few
seconds later by drilling Volchenkov near the boards, drawing an
interference minor with 42.4 seconds left.
Clarkson scored on a one-timer from the slot with 21.5 seconds
to go. On his way out of the penalty box, Skinner was seen saying
something to an official – and was promptly sent back in for 2
minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct.
The interference penalty was ”a tough play. He drops the puck
and I’m trying to be physical, I guess,” Skinner said. ”Probably
not the best time to go after that guy.”
He added that he couldn’t discuss the unsportsmanlike penalty
because ”that’s something that’s going to get me in trouble.”
Kovalchuk beat Boucher with a straightaway blast 1:44 into the
second – 6 seconds after Skinner’s penalty expired – for his
team-leading 34th goal.
”You play teams like this, they want to mentally break you
down,” Muller said. ”And I think as individuals, we’ve got a lot
of young guys and they’ve got to learn that this league is hard.
People are going to press your buttons. They’re going to push you
to the limit in every way you can, and it’s discipline that’s going
to be the key that gets you out of it.”
Things got out of hand 1:44 later, when Carter put the Devils’
next shot past the Carolina goalie on a 2-on-1. Sykora pushed it to
4-0 when he scored off a faceoff late in the second. By the time
Parise scored 1:15 into the third, the only question was whether
Brodeur would blank the Hurricanes for the ninth time in his
”Regardless of what kind of pushback we got from the
Hurricanes, I thought we executed real well, what we needed to do
to be dominant in the game,” Brodeur said. ”We haven’t dominated
a game the way we did today.”
NOTES: Kovalchuk’s three-point night gave him 44 points in 30
career games in Raleigh. … Carolina has given up the first goal
in eight of its last 10 games. … Two of the best players in
Devils history were behind Carolina’s bench. Muller and assistant
John MacLean combined for 532 goals during their time on the ice
for New Jersey.