Brodeur makes 32 saves, wins first home in game in St. Louis
Martin Brodeur looked right at home in the Midwest.
The winningest goalie in NHL history made 32 saves in his first home game with St. Louis, and Chris Porter scored his first goal of the season late in the third period to send the Blues to a 4-2 victory over the Florida Panthers on Monday night.
The 42-year-old Brodeur earned his second win with the Blues. He received several big cheers from the home crowd as he turned away several quality Panthers scoring chances in the second period, when Florida outshot the Blues 18-7.
"It felt great," said Brodeur, who spent more than two decades with the New Jersey Devils before signing with St. Louis last week.
"I didn't know what to expect coming in, and it's all about winning. When you win I think the fans are able to be a little more cheerful," he said. "I think it was great. They acknowledged before the game with a little video. I didn't expect that. A lot of good things. I'm really happy to be here, once again, and I think for the first visit in front of these fans, we didn't disappoint. We played well and I did my part."
Porter's goal came just more than three minutes after Florida tied the game. Porter redirected Barret Jackman's slap shot past Roberto Luongo at 18:06 to give the Blues a 3-2 lead.
"I saw he was going to shoot and I was just trying to get a stick on it and hopefully it will go in," Porter said.
Peter Stastny added an empty-netter with 32 seconds remaining.
The Blues jumped on top with a pair of first-period goals.
Maxim Lapierre's second of the season gave St. Louis a 1-0 lead 11:17 into the game. Initially, Lapierre's spin shot appeared wide, but it was deflected into the net off the skate of Florida's Vincent Trocheck.
The Blues doubled their lead on Ian Cole's third goal at 17:34. A nifty give-and-go between Vladimir Tarasenko and Jori Lehtera started the play, and Lehtera found Cole between the circles for a one-timer to make it 2-0.
Blues captain David Backes left early in the first period after getting hit in the face by the puck on a slap shot by teammate T.J. Oshie. Backes returned midway through the second wearing a cage to protect his face, but left the game shortly thereafter.
"He tried to go, but too much pain," St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said. "That's a lot of dental work for one night. Actually, the doctor pulled him out and we were in the process of going back just to tell him thanks, but you've got to take a break here. Hopefully he's ready for Thursday."
Florida finally broke through on Nick Bjugstad's wrist shot that beat Brodeur to the stick side to cut St. Louis' lead to 2-1 at 15:21 of the second.
Bjugstad's 12th goal broke a long scoring drought for the Panthers against St. Louis that spanned 202 minutes, 14 seconds of game time. Florida last scored against the Blues on Oct. 17, 2011, in a 4-1 loss.
The Panthers tied the game late in the third on Aaron Ekblad's goal. Oshie lost his stick, leaving Ekblad open on the right wing. Jussi Jokinen found him and Ekblad scored his fifth of the season to make it 2-all at 14:54 of the third.
"The last 40 minutes we played hard and played well and took it to a really good team," Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. "Disappointed to lose the way we did at the end. The effort was there. We had more chances. We didn't deserve to lose like that at the end, but they are a good team and find ways to win."
Luongo stopped 24 of 27 shots for the Panthers.
After the game, Luongo tipped his cap to Brodeur.
"He gave his team a chance to win and they rewarded him with a big goal there at the end," Luongo said. "Would have liked to go to overtime or shootout and see what would have happened. Got to put it behind you and move on."
NOTES: Carl Gunnarsson, Alexander Steen and Magnus Paajarvi were scratched for the Blues. ... Shawn Thornton was the lone scratch for Florida. ... Backes moved into a tie with Jamal Mayers for 11th on the games played list for the Blues at 595. ... Ekblad ran his point streak to five games.