Martin Brodeur celebrated his 40th birthday in style as he led the New Jersey Devils to a 4-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 4 of this Eastern Conference semifinal series.
The future Hall of Famer allowed two goals in the first period, but blanked the Flyers over the final two frames and finished the game with 20 saves and added an assist to give his team a 3-1 lead in this best-of-seven series.
"For me, I don't take anything for granted," said Brodeur. "I really appreciate every moment, especially this series because it has been awesome for me. We're not out of the woods, it's been a good three games but the fourth one is the hardest to get."
Petr Sykora and Marek Zidlicky each posted a goal and an assist while Dainius Zubrus scored twice, including the winner in the second period for the Devils, who are one win away from the conference finals for the first time since 2003.
New Jersey can advance with a win in Game 5 on Tuesday in Philadelphia.
Claude Giroux posted a goal and an assist while Scott Hartnell scored the other for the Flyers, who defeated the Penguins in six games in the opening round to advance to the semifinals. Ilya Bryzgalov allowed three goals on 42 shots in the loss.
"They work harder and win battles," said Giroux. "It just looks like they want it more than us. It's frustrating because the whole season we've been outworking the other team and now it's the other way around."
The Flyers scored the first goal of the game while on the power play. After a left circle faceoff win, Philly controlled the puck and Giroux threw a shot on net from the top of the left circle that Hartnell tipped past a screened Brodeur at the 11:50 mark.
Skating shorthanded, the Flyers made it 2-0 as a scrum in the Flyers zone saw the puck come out and Maxime Talbot sent a lead pass to Giroux, who was able to chip a backhand past Brodeur with 6:20 left in the first.
On the same power play, though, the Devils got one back as a hard pass at the right point from Zidlicky went to the left side where Sykora redirected it in with 4:46 to play in the first.
New Jersey then tied it with under two minutes to play in the opening period as Bryce Salvador sent a sharp pass from the left point to the slot where Zidlicky redirected it in for his first of the playoffs.
The second period was completely dominated by New Jersey, which held a 16-5 shot advantage, but Bryzgalov did all he could to keep it tied.
However, his best was not enough as Zubrus scored with 2:13 to play. After blowing a 2-on-1 chance, the Devils kept at it and Adam Henrique sent a pass from the deep right boards to the front where Zubrus snapped it home.
The Flyers were able to get pressure in the third, but weren't able to crack Brodeur as he made 10 saves in the third, including a stuff attempt from Hartnell about six minutes in.
Philly pulled Bryzgalov for the extra attacker, but Zubrus put the puck into the empty net to seal the victory.
Brodeur has three assists in these playoffs and 11 in his postseason career. It was the 106th win of his career in the postseason, including 13 wins against the Flyers...The Flyers are 1-5 when scoring first in these playoffs. They are 4-0 when allowing the first goal...Late in the second period, Giroux was called for an illegal hit to the head when he threw a shoulder into the head of Zubrus, who was not injured on the play...Philly went 1-for-2 on the power play while New Jersey was 1-for-5...Giroux has eight goals and nine assists in the playoffs to lead all skaters in points.