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Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Brodeur earns assist, Devils preserve lead

By Katie Strang

With an assist on Petr Sykora's first-period marker, Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur is now leading tough guy Cam Janssen in their side scoring competition 3-1.

Brodeur made sure to remind his teammate, bragging during a TV timeout about his two-point margin.

The 39-year-old future Hall of Famer now has three assists this season and 39 in his career.

"He's great with the puck, that can I say," said Sykora, who said Brodeur perfects those passes during breakout drills in practice. "He has what, three, four assists? That's good for some forwards. He could've had a one (goal) and one (assist) tonight. That's a great game for EVERY forward."

WIth Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller pulled for the extra attacker with time winding down, Brodeur got three looks at an empty-net. He made a good-faith effort to score, but didn't think he had much of a shot on any of the attempts.

"It's pretty rare that they throw the puck at you three times with an empty net, so at least a try," Brodeur said.

He won't ever be attempting a Gordie Howe hat trick (one goal, one assist and one fight), however.

"I ain't fighting," he said with a chuckle. "That's for sure."

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The Devils considered Wednesday's win over the Sabres a good bounce-back victory after Monday's 4-2 loss to Carolina. Preserving a third-period lead has been a sore spot for New Jersey, but they held onto one for a win against Buffalo.

"I liked our third period." coach Pete DeBoer said. "Playing with the lead, that's what we expect, that's what we've been talking about. That's a critical part for us going forward here."

Said captain Zach Parise, who tallied the team's third goal on a deflection of Mark Fayne's point shot at 6:55 of the second.

"They've got really good players. I thought we did a good job of playing in the neutral zone and not giving them too many odd-man rushes in that third period."

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To aid the team's effort in holding onto the lead and closing out the win, DeBoer shortened the bench in the third. He moved fourth-line center Tim Sestito up to the third line with Travis Zajac and David Clarkson.

"He's a solid defensive player, he stays on the right side of the puck, he wins battles. He did a good job there," DeBoer said.