Martin Brodeur broke Terry Sawchuk’s 40-year-old shutout record with his 104th career shutout Monday night as the New Jersey Devils (26-8-1) blanked the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-0 for their third straight win against Pittsburgh this season.
While Brodeur continues to entrench himself as arguably the greatest goaltender in the history of the game, the defending champs were over-matched against New Jersey for the third time this season. It has reached the point of concern as the Devils have quickly proved they are among the league’s best teams.
The Devils transition game gave Pittsburgh fits Monday night just like it did in the two previous contests. New Jersey not Pittsburgh set the tone in the game and that’s been a common scene in all three games to this point.
Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma has not found a way for the Penguins to combat the Devils tight defensive game in the neutral zone as the needed adjustments for Pittsburgh have not been there. They better come up with some as the two teams meet again December 30th in New Jersey for the first time this season.
Although it’s not even the mid-point of the regular season, another lose to New Jersey could have playoff implications for Pittsburgh down the road.
The Devils aren’t going away and the Penguins talked extensively today about the importance of winning the division.
Not winning the division will likely mean a four or five seed and a first round matchup against a Buffalo or Boston.
The Devils have a clear path to winning the head-to-head matchup against Pittsburgh which could be crucial in April.
Post-Game Wrap Up
*The struggles for Marc Andre Fleury against New Jersey continue as Fleury was pulled after giving up 4 goals on 16 shots. Fleury was not sharp but didn’t get much help in front of him. Fleury is now 8-13-4 in his career against New Jersey.
Power Play goes 0-for-5
This was the type of game where the Penguins needed their power play to give them a spark. It didn’t happen as the Penguins went 0-for-5 on the power play against New Jersey.
Malkin not shooting with confidence
Evgeni Malkin has only 10 goals on the season and questions have been pondered whether he is hurt. He’s not hurt or being hindered by a nagging injury.
The problem is that he doesn’t have much confidence in his shot at times. Tonight was a prime example when he intercepted a puck in the offensive zone and came down the right side with a clear lane to the net but went to his backhand and softly shot the puck to the net.
Malkin is still getting points and scoring a timely goal here and there but he needs his linemates to elevate his play and that’s not going to happen.
Crosby praises Brodeur
Marty Brodeur got a nice cheer from the Penguins crowd tonight and received high marks from his future Team Canada teammate Sidney Crosby.
“It’s pretty incredible, ” Sidney Crosby said. “The records are piling up. “He’s a legendary goalie and he proves it every year.”
By the way Brodeur has been a strong supporter of Crosby’s mentioning a few times over the past couple years that he is a superior player to Alexander Ovechkin.
Jordan Staal is okay after leaving a pool of blood on the ice after being struck in the nose by a puck about seven minutes into the second period. Staal returned and played the entire third period.
*Mark Eaton did not play due to a right knee injury. Eaton has some discomfort but the injury is not serious. Could miss a week or two at the most I’m told. There was some concern that he could be out for 3-to-4 weeks. Eaton is hopeful to play next week after Christmas break.