NEWARK, N.J. -- The box score said Martin Brodeur made 35 saves on Wednesday night.
In reality, he made 38.
Brodeur stoned Rick Nash and Mark Letestu in the shootout and thwarted a 2-on-0 breakaway with his stick during the second period -- none of which counted toward his save total -- in the Devils’ 2-1 victory over the Blue Jackets at the Prudential Center.
“He was our best player,” coach Peter DeBoer said of Brodeur, who made 16 of his 35 saves in the third period. “You know what? We needed him to be. We needed our goaltender to be our best player and he was.”
The one goal allowed by Brodeur (5-4-0) was a season-low. He also gave up one on Oct. 13 against Los Angeles, but left after the first period with a shoulder injury, which kept him out of action for almost three weeks.
“Marty stood on his head,” said Ilya Kovalchuk, who scored the first of two Devils’ goals during the shootout.
“We gotta be better than that,” the Russian sniper added, eluding to an abysmal final frame in which the Devils were outshot 17-3. “We gotta play our system.”
The Devils had their share of breakdowns defensively -- especially in the last 20 minutes of regulation -- but Brodeur single-handedly earned two points for his team with what was by far his best start of the season.
“He made every save we needed him to make,” said Zach Parise, who also scored during the shootout.
Brodeur’s glove save on Nash’s wrister during the skills competition was his finest moment of the evening.
“I don’t have a book on him,” Brodeur said. “But I do my homework on everybody. The angle he was coming at, I figured there was only two moves he could’ve made, and I guessed right.”
Then he dropped down and stopped Letestu to end it.
“I wish we didn’t have to [win in the shootout], but it’s a good win,” Brodeur said. “For me to get a win in the shootout is definitely new, but I expect that all games are tight, and you have to perform well when it happens.”
The game was scoreless early in the second, but it looked as though Columbus would take an early lead when Vinny Prospal moved in all alone with Nash to his left. Two highly-skilled forwards rushing down the ice against arguably the best goaltender to ever put on the pads.
The 39-year-old future Hall of Famer anticipated Prospal was going to make a cross-slot pass to Nash, so he put his stick low to the ice and deflected it away at 3:35. Thirty-four seconds later, Dainius Zubrus tallied to put the Devils ahead.
“Well, I knew because Nash was there and he wanted the puck,” Brodeur said, laughing. “I knew Nash was on that side.”
A reporter asked Brodeur if he “stole one.”
“Stole one?” Brodeur replied. “I never get to think like that, because it’s a team game and it’s a long year. We need everybody to chip in at different times.”
Seriously? Sounds like the company line. What about behind closed doors?
“We can’t do that all year boys,” Brodeur said.