NHL: DEVILS 2, PENGUINS 1 -- Veteran Brodeur gets best of Penguins
NEWARK, N.J. — Marty Brodeur beat the Pittsburgh Penguins yet again. He even got an assist, too.
“I think that’s been the case for a number of years, even before I played for Pittsburgh,” Penguins center Sidney Crosby said. “They play good team defense and with Marty Brodeur and (Cory) Schneider there, they have two pretty good goalies. You have to make sure you put your chances away.”
Brodeur came up big early and then held on to improve his record to 48-28-5 against Pittsburgh in his career. The Devils stand 13-3 versus the Penguins at the Prudential Center since it opened in 2008.
Adam Henrique scored 1:38 into the game and Michael Ryder connected 2:45 into the second, sparking the Devils to a 2-1 victory on Tuesday. Brodeur was credited with his 44th career assist on Ryder’s goal.
Brodeur made 19 saves for the Devils (17-16-1) in gaining his second win of the season against division rival Pittsburgh. Marc-Andre Fleury had 28 saves for the Penguins (29-12-1).
“Especially in this building, we’ve been playing them well,” said Brodeur, who improved his season record to 12-8-3. “We’re trying to play well against good teams. We want to play well against everybody, but we have that little fear of the Penguins because we know how damaging they can be. So it brings out the best in us.”
Henrique scored his ninth goal with a nifty finish off a pass from Ryan Clowe. Henrique made a quick move into the clear in front of the net and then lifted a shot over the left shoulder of Penguins goalie Fleury. Ryder was credited with an assist on the goal.
A few minutes later, the Devils lost veteran winger Patrik Elias after he was knocked to the ice by Pittsburgh’s Tanner Glass. Elias was face down on the ice and didn’t move until medical personnel reached him. He got up slowly to his knees and then managed to skate off. He did not return.
“It wasn’t precautionary,” Devils coach Pete DeBoer said about his decision to hold Elias out. “I don’t think there was an option. I talked to him between periods and he explained the play and told me it was awkward. But I don’t know anything yet.”
Brodeur earned his 44th career assist when he started the play that led to Ryder’s 12th goal of the season at 2:45 of the second. Brodeur cleared the puck to Ryder, who skated past the blue line and into the middle before losing the puck. But Henrique quickly regained possession and sent it back into the middle, where Ryder fired his shot past Fleury.
Matt Niskanen cut it to 2-1 for Pittsburgh at 6:58 of the second from the right circle off a Crosby feed that beat Brodeur to his glove side. Sidney Crosby picked up his 23rd assist of the season on the goal and teammate Chris Kunitz registered his 22nd assist on the play.
The opening minutes of the game were frenetic for Brodeur. Kunitz blasted a slap shot that bounced off the right shoulder of Brodeur. Seconds later, Kunitz missed a chance at an open net with Brodeur down on far side of the goal.
“I wish that one would have gone in, too,” Kunitz said. “He made a nice save, got his shoulder on that one. He’s a good goaltender. He knows how the play the angles, that’s for sure.”
NOTES: Sidney Crosby had an assist in the second period to give him nine goals and 23 points for the month of December and has now produced a point in 13 of the last 14 games for Pittsburgh. … The Devils held the Penguins to just one power play in the entire game, which came in the closing minutes of the third period.