Martin Brodeur earned his 100th NHL regular-season shutout with a 27-save effort, and the New Jersey Devils extended their lead in the Atlantic Division with a 3-0 victory over the second-place Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday.
The shutout was the second in three games since Brodeur returned Thursday from elbow surgery, and this one moved him within three of tying Terry Sawchuk's mark of 103. It was also Brodeur's 547th career victory, moving him within four of tying Patrick Roy's league record.
Brodeur has four shutouts in 13 games this season.
Jamie Langenbrunner, Brian Gionta and Johnny Oduya scored as the Devils won for the eighth time in 10 games to open a nine-point lead in the division with 19 games left in the regular season.
The loss was the fourth in 11 games (7-3-1) for the Flyers, who welcomed back Danny Briere to the lineup after he missed 36 games following abdominal-groin surgery. Philadelphia has played two fewer games than New Jersey.
After Brodeur had two relatively easy wins over Colorado and Florida, the Flyers had several quality chances against the 36-year-old goalie. Philadelphia captain Mike Richards had the best two.
Brodeur, who missed 50 games after having surgery to repair a torn biceps in his left elbow, protected a 1-0 lead when he slid across his crease to stop Richards in close after he was set up by Simon Gagne. Richards also had a deflection early in the third period.
Briere added a good wraparound attempt during a first-period power play. Brodeur made a couple of good stops against Scottie Upshall late in the game.
Brodeur saved the shutout stopping Mike Knuble in close with 5:46 to go.
As in the other two games since Brodeur returned, the Devils scored early.
Zach Parise, who had two goals in Saturday's 7-2 win over Florida, chased down the puck in the right corner and sent a cross-ice pass to pass to Langenbrunner in the left circle. The Devils captain one-timed the first shot of the game past Martin Biron for his 20th goal of the season and the 200th of his career at 3:51.
Gionta doubled the lead 37 seconds into the second period, deflecting a point shot by Oduya for his 14th goal.
Brodeur even had a hand in the final goal that extended the Devils' home winning streak to seven. He waved his stick over the top of his head to swat away a loose puck and that set up a quick counterattack that Oduya finished with a 35-foot shot that beat Biron, one of 44 faced by the Flyers goaltender.
Notes:@ New Jersey has outscored opponents 14-2 in winning the three games since Brodeur returned. ... The Flyers loaned D Lasse Kukkonen and F Claude Giroux to the Philadelphia Phantoms (AHL) this weekend and recalled D Nate Guenin, who played in his first game of the season. ... New Jersey is 3-2 vs. the Flyers. ... Devils D Paul Martin was hit in the mouth by teammate John Madden's stick in the second period and later struck in the helmet by a Flyers stick in the corner. ... The Devils (41-19-3) assured themselves of a 17th straight season of .500 or better. ... New Jersey is 29-0-1 when leading after two periods.
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