The New Jersey Devils overcame a mistake by goaltender Martin Brodeur and an injury to veteran defenseman Scott Stevens to beat the Vancouver Canucks.
Brodeur was brilliant in recording his 31st victory of the NHL season as the Devils beat the Canucks 2-1 Monday night. He made 25 saves and stymied the Canucks on several occasions while leading the Devils, the NHL's best road team, to their fourth consecutive victory away from home.
But he lost his shutout on a terrible blunder with just 1:19 to play. He gave the puck away to Alexander Mogilny trying to score after the Canucks had pulled goaltender Garth Snow for an extra attacker, and Mogilny easily scored into the vacated New Jersey net.
Brodeur had to make three good saves in the final minute to preserve the win, which moved the Devils five points ahead of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in the Atlantic Division.
"I saw (Mogilny) and I went brain-dead there for a second and tried to score anyway," admitted Brodeur. "That's one of those little things you've got to learn not to do, but in my books, when I have a two-goal lead, I'm going for the empty net."
A goal would have been Brodeur's first in regular-season play. He scored a playoff goal against the Montreal Canadiens in the 1997 Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Devils got all the goals they needed from forwards Randy McKay and Patrik Elias.
McKay broke a scoreless tie at 2:04 of the second period, banging a loose puck past Snow after a shot from the blue line by defenseman Lyle Odelein for his 15th goal.
Elias scored the eventual winning goal on a power play at 12:44 of the third period. The Devils had a flurry of chances around the Vancouver net before Elias scored his 12th from just outside the crease.
Stevens left on just his third shift of the game with what was diagnosed as a groin strain. The injury is not expected to be serious but the veteran defenseman ay miss the team's game in Edmonton on Wednesday night.
Brodeur narrowly escaped injury on a play early in the second period. A shot from Canucks leading scorer Markus Naslund struck him on the face mask as he dove across the crease to stop the dangerous scoring chance.
Brodeur was treated by the Devils' training staff as play was held up for several minutes.
"It wasn't really the shot that hurt me," said Brodeur. "My defenseman came in and jammed my neck a little bit. ... I didn't want to move too much and I wanted to get a whistle as soon as possible."
The Devils improved their NHL-best road record to 23-9-2. The 23rd road win set a franchise record and allowed New Jersey to open up a five-point lead over Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in the Atlantic Division.
With 82 points, the Devils also moved two points behind the Eastern Conference-leading Ottawa Senators, who lost 4-0 in Los Angeles.
The loss kept the Canucks nine points out of a playoff position in the Western Conference.
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