NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Devils coach Pete DeBoer has been looking for one of his goalies to get hot and take over the majority of the playing time.
Marty Brodeur gave DeBoer a clear answer Saturday night with one of his best games of the season.
Dainius Zubrus scored two goals in the third period and Brodeur made 33 saves, leading the New Jersey Devils past the Tampa Bay Lightning, 3-0.
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“It’s exactly what we needed at the right time,” DeBoer said of Brodeur. “That game (Friday, 3-2 loss to the Penguins) night took a lot out of us and I knew the difference was going to be the goaltending.”
Brodeur earned his third shutout of the season and 124th of his career.
“I know for me, it’s always been hard not to be there all the time,” Brodeur said. “It’s the way it is when you have two guys who can play. It always makes decisions difficult.”
Jaromir Jagr assisted on both goals to raise his assist total to 1,024.
Damien Brunner’s seventh goal had broken the scoreless tie in the second period.
“It was a really nice pass and it doesn’t happen a lot these days,” Brunner said. “I was able to generate some speed and Geli (Eric Gelinas) made a great pass.”
Jagr skated behind the net and passed to Zubrus on doorstep of the crease for the goal at 6:44 of the period.
Then, at 9:36, Jagr put a backhand shot on goal and Zubrus was there to knock in the rebound for his seventh goal and a 3-0 advantage.
Brodeur came up with two of his best saves in the third to thwart the Lightning.
First, he turned away a breakaway chance with a pad save on Nikita Kucherov’s shot. Then he smothered a point-blank shot by J.T. Brown.
“I have no clue,” when asked how he made the save on Kucherov. “I didn’t feel it and didn’t know what it was. I got lucky.”
Brunner scored at the 15:37 mark. Rookie defenseman Eric Gelinas made a pass up the middle to Brunner’s stick, just before the blue line.
Brunner got between two defenders for a break on goal, deked to his left and then pushed a forehand past Lightning goalie Anders Lindback. Mark Fayne was credited with an assist.
The Lightning put pressure on Brodeur in the second period, outshooting the Devils 14-5.
Before Brunner’s goal, Brodeur had Martin St. Louis muttering to himself in the second period after the Devils goalie foiled a scoring chance by the Lightning’s star.
St. Louis received a pass in front and wristed a high shot from the point that Brodeur managed to grab out of the air with his glove.
“Marty was Marty tonight, for sure,” St. Louis said. “I didn’t get a lot of wood on it and I was frustrated. It was a good save. We were surging and had chances, but they got the second goal, that made it tough.”
In the first minute of the third period, Brunner was denied a second goal when Lindback came up with a big save on a shot from the right circle.
NOTES: The Devils were 3 for 3 in penalty kills vs. the Lighting, giving them the best penalty kill percentage in the NHL .933 (42 of 45). … Tampa Bay star Steve Stamkos joined his teammates for the morning skate at the Prudential Center on Saturday, 33 days after breaking his leg in a collision with a goal post. “My 4-week X-ray looks good. I’m just trying to progress,” said Stamkos in a video on the Lightning website. Stamkos had 14 goals and 23 points in 17 games before the Nov. 11 injury sustained in Boston.