Friday April 24th, 2009

It was bound to happen, a goaltending duel between two of the best netminders in the league, Carolina's Cam Ward and New Jersey's Martin Brodeur. And in this particular iteration, neither team was shooting blanks. With a combined 86 shots between -- each club hurled more than 40 at the opposition's net -- it was a wonder that the game ended in a 1-0 win (BOX | RECAP) for New Jersey Thursday night.

"Sometimes you think of these teams, and it's going to be a little bit of a grind," Carolina head coach Paul Maurice said. "But there was great goaltending and great offense on that ice tonight."

After the way Game 4 ended, with Brodeur slamming his stick against the boards in frustration after getting bumped on a buzzer-beating goal, how he'd respond was the biggest question going forward. The veteran netminder can't be fazed. He made 44 saves and earned his 23rd career postseason shutout, tying Patrick Roy's record. The record, though, in Brodeur's words, was secondary to the win, which gave the Devils a 3-2 edge in this Eastern quarterfinal.

New Jersey coach Brent Sutter thought the devastating Game 4 loss was the Devils' punishment -- courtesy of the hockey gods -- for their lackluster play in the first two periods of that game. Well, perhaps they evened it up by keeping the Hurricanes from finding the net in Game 5, despite the tremendous chances late in the second period. On a loose puck in the Devils' zone, Brodeur and Hurricanes forward Chad LaRose came together to play it. LaRose lost an edge and slid, skates first, into Brodeur and cut him in the back of his legs. Wobbly, and without his stick for about 30 seconds, Brodeur recovered somehow, refusing to allow a Hurricanes goal. Though he seemed to be favoring his right leg for the rest of the period, Brodeur described it as only a flesh wound.

It didn't seem to have any negative effect at all. In fact, after the first, when the Hurricanes started turning up their offense, Brodeur wasn't favoring anything. He stopped 35 shots in the final two periods, exactly the kind of redemption he needed.

"It's really important that you have to part [with] things, throw it out the door when it's over and start getting refocused on the next game," Sutter said.

The playoff road can a bumpy one; nobody knows that better than Brodeur.

KWAK'S SHOTS

David Clarkson scored a goal in his second consecutive game, deflecting Andy Greene's point shot past Cam Ward on the power play. It was Greene's first game of the postseason, as he slipped into the lineup for the injured defenseman Bryce Salvador. "We won't miss a beat," Sutter predicted before the game. And certainly Greene is helping on the power play with his cannon shot; he took a team-high five in the game.

• Clarkson's physical presence in front of the net led to the goal in the second, but it also led to a goalie interference call in the first. Asked if Clarkson was sending a message about the way Game 4 ended with his physical game around Ward, both he and Sutter denied that was the case. But Sutter also remarked: "As soon as they called [the penalty on Clarkson], they were going to be a lot tighter on these things tonight, something that hadn't been happening throughout the series, to a certain degree."

• After the last-second goal on Tuesday that tied the series at 2, Brodeur went uncharacteristically nuts. He said Wednesday he couldn't remember a time he had ever reacted like that in front of people. A day later, he'd mellowed a bit, but still insisted he was right. "If I get position, regardless of if it's blue ice or white ice, whatever they call it, they shouldn't be able to hit me or touch me," he said. "I think looking at it, I don't think you could call a penalty, I don't think it's worthy of a penalty. But there is a rule about incidental contact outside your crease is a whistle and the play is stopped dead."

• The Devils' line of Brendan Shanahan, John Madden and Jay Pandolfo has been a difference-maker during this series. In Thursday's game, they not only helped keep the Hurricanes' top line off the score sheet, they created plenty of chances for themselves in their end, too. Shanahan put up five shots; Pandolfo had a third-period breakaway chance, and Madden won 57 percent of his faceoffs, earning praise from Sutter. Pandolfo also laid down and blocked one of the final shots before the buzzer, definitely thinking about the last moments of Tuesday's game.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.