Martin Brodeur would have preferred a larger margin for error, but he and the New Jersey Devils will have to settle for a 1-0 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
“Well, I like the 2, 3-nothing better,” Brodeur joked. “It makes it tough at the end, because one lucky bounce, anything could happen.”
The all-time winningest goalie knows better than anyone, coming off a last-second controversial loss on Tuesday. Brodeur gave a fiery response to referees and media after Jussi Jokenin’s goal in game four, and played like a man-on-fire in game five.
Brodeur made 44 saves and tied Patrick Roy for playoff shutouts with 23 in his 98th career playoff victory.
On the other side of the ice, Cam Ward saved 42 shots by the Devils, but was unable to stop a deflection on the power play by David Clarkson.
At 11:22 in the second period, defenseman Andy Greene, seeing action for injured Bryce Salvador for the first time in this post-season, received a cross-ice pass from Patrik Elias and fired a shot from the right point. Clarkson screened Ward and raised his stick enough to tip the puck into the roof of the net.
The goal is Clarkson’s second of the post-season and second playoff goal of his career.
“Patty made a nice pass across to me and I just tried to shoot as hard as I can, and Clarkie made a great deflection. Just a great tip in by him and the rest is history,” Greene said.
Coach Brent Sutter was pleased with his defenseman’s play on short notice.
“Greene played very well,” Sutter said. “At different times throughout this year for us he’s come in and played very well. He’s a very poised and controlled young man. He prepared obviously, he got himself ready.”
If Clarkson’s goal were to hold up as the game winner, the Devils still had 30 minutes of ice time to defend the small lead, including some penalty time.
“You look at tonight, you score a goal on the power play allows us to win the game one nothing. And we had to kill off some big penalties,” Sutter said. “Specialty teams are a big part of the playoffs and if they’re not doing the job, you’re going to have a tough time finding success.”
The Devils killed off five penalties during the game and 18 of 19 penalties during the first five games of the series.
Much of the penalty kill was Brodeur, stopping 10 power play attempts by the Hurricanes.
Asked if Brodeur brought motivation from the previous loss, Sutter responded, “If there is, he certainly used it in the right way. He used it in a positive way.”
Brodeur went on the offensive when he strolled 15 feet in front of the crease to play a puck at 15:30 of the second period. Johnny Oduya and Chad Larose were chasing after it, and Brodeur and Larose careened into each other.
Brodeur laid on the ice for a few moments while play continued, and leaped back into net as a shot barely missed the left post. When play was stopped to call Brodeur on an interference penalty, Brodeur got his ankle checked out.
Larosa’s skate cut the back of Brodeur’s leg as the two collided. Brodeur was concerned about the blood, but the cut did not hamper his play the rest of the game.
The number of shots Brodeur stopped including several in the final 30 seconds of the game, with Carolina looking for a repeat performance.
With less than 19 seconds remaining in the game, Brodeur covered a slap shot from point blank range off of a Carolina face-off win. After stopping it, his teammates took over.
Blocking 22 shots overall, two of the most important came in the final ten seconds.
Jay Pandolfo threw himself on the ice and took a shot from the left point in the stomach. The puck bounced off of him and stayed in the Carolina offensive zone, but Brendan Shanahan dove to swipe it past the blue line.
Pandolfo and Shanahan’s linemate also was a big factor in the game, according to Sutter.
“John was extremely good in faceoffs,” Sutter said of the veteran Madden.
With solid play from every line of forwards and defensemen, the Devils were able to put the game in Martin Brodeur’s hands, and Brodeur responded with terrific play that showed once again he can secure a win, no matter how big the lead.