New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer knew the return of Martin Brodeur would boost his team.
He didn’t know it would kickstart the offense.
The Devils goalie scored his third career goal in the first period to help New Jersey defeat the Carolina Hurricanes, 4-1, at PNC Arena. The win snapped the Devils three-game losing streak and moved them into seventh place in the Eastern Conference.
Adam Henrique, Peter Harrold and Andrei Loktionov scored for the Devils, who netted more than two goals for the first time in four games. Travis Zajac recorded his first multi-point game since February 15, leading New Jersey with two assists.
The win extended Carolina’s losing streak to a season-high five games. The Canes slipped to eighth in the Eastern Conference with the loss.
Brodeur was credited with a power-play goal 3:54 into the game when a delayed hooking penalty was called on Devils defenseman Marek Zidlicky.
With New Jersey on the power play, Zidlicky hooked Patrick Dwyer from behind as he carried the puck through the right circle. Brodeur made a save on Dwyer’s shot with a combination of his stick and left pad. The puck went to the far corner, where Jordan Staal gained control. His backhand pass slid past Tim Gleason at the left point and caromed off the boards. The puck went all the way down the ice and into the empty Carolina net. Dan Ellis went to the bench moments before that on the delayed penalty.
It was Brodeur’s third career goal and first on the power-play. His last regular season goal came against the Philadelphia Flyers on February 15, 2000, when he was credited with a goal after the Flyers scored in its own net during a delayed penalty. The Devils scored the first goal for just the third time in its last 15 games.
The Devils goalie then responded with big saves, keeping the Hurricanes scoreless as they brought consistent pressure for the next several minutes. Carolina had several opportunities from the slot, but Brodeur turned away each attempt. He had 10 saves before the game was 10 minutes old.
Henrique doubled the Devils lead in the second period.
Adam Larsson kept the puck at the blue line on a clearing attempt, skating to the middle of the point before shooting the puck toward the net. His shot hit Ilya Kovalchuk in the back before dropping right in front of Henrique. The Devils left wing swatted the puck past the blocker of Ellis for his 10th goal of the season.
Harrold pushed the lead to 3-0 less than a minute later with a 4-on-4 goal. Patrik Elias left a drop pass to Harrold, who came down from the point. His initial shot was blocked by Canes defenseman Jay Harrison, but Harrold tracked down the rebound and beat Ellis with a rebound to the blocker side for his second goal of the season.
Jeff Skinner broke Brodeur’s shutout in the third period to cut the lead to 3-1. With Carolina on a power play, Eric Staal sent a pass in the neutral zone to Skinner at the Devils blue line. He carried the puck along the side boards, firing a shot from above the right circle. The shot deflected off the stick of Bryce Salvador and knuckled by Brodeur’s glove for his 10th goal of the season.
Brodeur finished with 17 saves in his return. He missed the last 13 games with a pinched nerve around his neck.
Loktionov, who returned from a lower body injury, scored a power-play goal late in the final period to seal the win. Steve Bernier knocked the puck off the stick of Harrison in the left circle, and it bounced to Loktionov in the slot. The young center kicked the puck from the stick to his skate before sending a backhand shot past Ellis.
Ellis stopped 18 shots before leaving with under a minute remaining in regulation, leaving the ice with blood on his hand. Justin Peters replaced him and faced no shots.
The Devils continued its streak of outshooting opponents. Tonight was the 12th straight game New Jersey led in shots, finishing with a 22-18 advantage. They are 11-7-3 when outshooting opponents this season.
New Jersey scored multiple power-play goals for the first time since February 9, when they went 2-for-10 on the man advantage in a 3-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Harrold extended his point streak to a season-high three games. The Devils defenseman has three points (2g, 1a) during that streak.