Hedberg Gets Start Against Tampa

Sitting on the bench isn’t something future Hall-of-Fame goalie Martin Brodeur is used to doing.

Yet, with his team continuing to stay hot with Johan Hedberg in net, Brodeur realizes the move is good for the team right now.

“That’s why these kind of things for players you have to take it in stride,” Brodeur told Tom Gulitti of The Bergen Record. “You can’t read into it too much. (Hedberg is) playing well and he deserves to be there. That’s the bottom line.”

Hedberg will start his eighth consecutive game tonight as the New Jersey Devils (26-30-4) face the Tampa Bay Lightning (35-18-7).

Lemaire decided to stick with Hedberg after the goalie’s run of recent games. “The Moose” has won his last seven contests while filling in for the injured Brodeur. He’s stopped 59 of 60 shots in his last three games, recording two shutouts.

Hedberg has yet to face the Lightning this season.

The Devils, a surprising 16-1-2 in their last 19 games, have fought their way back into the playoff picture. Entering tonight’s game, they sit nine points behind the Carolina Hurricanes for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.

New Jersey’s surprising run began against Tampa Bay in early January. The Devils, on a 2-15-0 slide, began their torrid streak with a 6-3 defeat of the Lightning January 9. They continued it five days later, beating the Lighting, 5-2.

The Devils have also been dominant at the St. Pete Times Forum, winning their last six games on Tampa’s home ice.

New Jersey is seeking their first nine-game win streak since 2007. They extended their winning streak to eight games Tuesday night, beating the Dallas Stars, 1-0. After two scoreless periods, the Devils finally broke through on the powerplay. Mark Fayne passed the puck to Ilya Kovalchuk, who broke his stick on a one-timer attempt. Nick Palmieri tipped the fluttering puck past Stars’ goalie Kari Lehtonen for the game-winning goal.

The assist extended Kovalchuk’s point streak to 11 games, the longest of his career.

The Lightning snapped a three-game losing streak Wednesday night by dismantling the Phoenix Coyotes, 8-3. Teddy Purcell recorded his first career hat trick, and Vincent Lecavlier tied a career-high with five points.

Hedberg, whonever started more than four consecutive games in Atlanta, admitted to having fun as the top goalie.

“It’s fun,” he told Gulitti. “It’s fun to play. It’s fun to win games. This team is playing great and it’s fun to be a part of.”


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