NEWARK – Imagine having a performance review at work 1,000 times over a 16 year span in front of your board of directors and share holders.
Martin Brodeur has done just that, appearing in his 1,000th career game Saturday night to open the New Jersey Devils’ 2009-2010 season.
Opening the new year at home, the Devils lost to the Philadelphia Flyers, 5-2.
Brodeur saw a lot of action early in the game, as the Flyers out-shot the devils 5-1 in the first six minutes of the game.
The Flyers struck first, when Jeff Carter fired from the right faceoff circle off of a pass from Scott Hartnell at 15:47 in the first period.
Despite plenty of chances to even the score, including two 5-on-3 opportunities, the Devils found it very difficult to keep the puck in the offensive zone and rotate lines efficiently.
“That was probably the most negative in our game tonight, long shifts by different groups,” Devils’ coach Jacques Lemaire said. “Because after, you don’t have that energy, especially in the first game.”
Philadelphia then used the momentum of penalty kills to add to their lead.
New Jersey native James van Riemsdyk sent a pass from the left blueline to Ian Laperriere, who took a wide-angle shot from the right faceoff circle that flew past Brodeur nine minutes into the second period.
Mike Richards put the Flyers up 3-0 six minutes later. Richards dumped the puck into the zone to Matt Carle. Carle sent the puck around the back boards and Richards picked up the puck and banged it off of Brodeur’s left leg pad, where it flipped into the top of the net.
Fans began to leave 7:34 into the third period when Darroll Powe fired a routine shot from the left faceoff circle that riccoted off of Brodeur’s mitt and into the far corner of the net. With his second assist of the game, van Riemsdyk notched his third point of his two-game-long NHL career.
The Devils maintained a shot lead over the Flyers for most of the game, but the visitors took advantage of the opportunities given.
New Jersey got on the board 9:44 into the final period when Philadelphia took a too-many-men penalty. Brian Rolston moved in from the point to the left faceoff circle and fired a dart into the net behind Flyers’ goalie Ray Emery.
Nicholas Bergfors and Dainius Zubrus were credited with the assists.
Any thought of a comeback was squashed at 11:13 when Matt Carle skated cleanly into the offensive zone and shot a puck that deflected off of Brodeur’s leg bad.
The Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner restored some energy to the building when he and Zubrus combined on a 2-on-1 short-handed breakaway. Langenbrunner fired five hole and Emery was unable to stop the puck.
“The best thing out of this game, I thought the guys kept playing, even though they took a big league,” Lemaire said. “The guys were positive on the bench and talking about ‘don’t let up’ and working, and ‘we’ll get goals’.”
Brodeur stopped 22 of the 27 shots he faced, and Emery stopped 24 of the 26 shots aimed in his direction.
Had the Devils won, it would have been Lemaire’s 200th career coaching victory.
New Jersey has another opportunity to get the milestone win for Lemaire against another Atlatic Division foe Monday in the second game of the season when the New York Rangers visit the Prudential Center at 7 p.m.