NEW YORK – Collecting their season-high fifth straight win, the Devils feel they have silenced some critics.
Edging the Rangers 1-0 in their first visit to Madison Square Garden this season, the Devils concluded a banner week in which they collected two wins against their Atlantic Division rivals and knocked off Montreal, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
“Big boost,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “It’s nice to beat the best teams. People have been talking that we haven’t been able to and this week capped off a good week of answering some of those questions.”
Goaltender Martin Brodeur prevailed against elite netminder Henrik Lundqvist, making 30 saves to record his first shutout of the season and 117th of his career. The future Hall of Famer has now posted nine shutouts against the Rangers in his 18-year career.
“He played great,” said captain Zach Parise, who set up the lone goal of the game -- David Clarkson’s power-play marker at 8:14 of the first. “You always get the sense that when Marty and Lundqvist play each other you can see they want to outdo each other. 99 times out of 100, it’s a great goaltending battle and it was again tonight. Marty was great, he made huge saves and really got us that win with a shutout.”
Parise admitted a “bad play” by him almost cost Brodeur the shutout. With ten seconds remaining and an empty-net beckoning on the other end, Parise sent the puck right into Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto’s shin pad, a gaffe that led to a frantic Rangers’ rush.
The Rangers appeared to score on Ryan Callahan’s attempt with less than four seconds remaining, but the goal was waived off as a result of Marian Gaborik’s goaltender interference penalty.
Although Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov made contact with Gaborik before the collision in the crease, Brodeur felt the official assessed the play correctly.
“Obviously, [Gaborik] takes both his hands and kind of hits me on the shoulder and impairs me to make a save,” Brodeur said. “I thought it was the right call. I’m sure they’ll probably complain about it, but that’s sort of the nature of the beast.”
Parise was relieved the call let him off the hook.
“Gaborik went right into him. You have to make that call. I think he made the right call,” Parise said. “I thanked him after for bailing me out. I’m sure they probably have different feelings about it. I’m sure we would if we were on the other side, but you could see there was definitely contact.”
Brodeur was peppered with fifteen shots in the third period – the Devils managed only one, on Jacob Josefson’s breakaway 7:22 into play – but held on to preserve the shutout and the team’s 31st win of the season. Securing two critical points, the Devils leap-frogged Pittsburgh to claim 5th place in the Eastern Conference standings.
“We played a great hockey game right from the start,” Brodeur said. “We thought this might be a dirty 1-0 win and that’s exactly what happened.”