In need of a win, the New Jersey Devils knew exactly who to turn to.
Martin Brodeur made 24 saves for his 111th NHL shutout, and Ilya Kovalchuk scored 53 seconds into overtime to lift the shorthanded Devils to their first win of the season, 1-0, over the Sabres last night in Buffalo.
Brodeur, who came in with just an .859 save percentage, extended his NHL record for shutouts with his third career blanking of the Sabres. It was also his 23d career 1-0 win, and it helped give Devils rookie coach John MacLean his first career NHL victory.
After playing with only 15 skaters Monday in a loss to Pittsburgh because of salary cap limitations and injuries to defenseman Anton Volchenkov (broken nose) and forward Brian Rolston (groin), the Devils (1-2-1) increased their roster to 16 vs. Buffalo — still two shy of a full allotment of players.
Once Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond cleared waivers and was assigned to Albany of the AHL, New Jersey freed up enough cap space to sign gritty forward Adam Mair and put him in the lineup against the Sabres, Mair’s former team.
“We’ve had a lot of changes, we’ve had injuries, and we’ve played with 15 players, and now 16 players,’’ Brodeur said. “It’s been chaotic a little bit. So for us to finally get one under our belt, now we can start playing our season.’’
The Devils’ slow and sluggish start to the season wasn’t lost on MacLean, who was so angry and frustrated at the team’s morning skate that he sent his players off after just 20 minutes.
Maple Leafs 4, Penguins 3 — Clarke MacArthur scored twice and Toronto withstood Sidney Crosby’s first goal of the season to keep the Penguins winless in their new arena.
Francois Beauchemin and Colton Orr also had goals for the Maple Leafs, who scored on four of 14 shots. Toronto is 3-0 for the first time since its division-winning 1999-2000 season; last season, the Leafs didn’t get their third victory until their 15th game.
“Everyone keeps bringing up last year,’’ defensive Dion Phaneuf said. “Well, it doesn’t really matter right now. We’re focused on this year.’’
The Leafs held on despite being outshot, 9-2, in the third period, when Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Mark Letestu all failed to convert good scoring chances.
Pittsburgh is 1-3 overall and 0-3 in the
A new-arena jinx? None of the Penguins are calling it that. Yet.
“Each game that goes by, especially when you expect to win each one, it starts to get discouraging,’’ defenseman Paul Martin said. “That’s something we can’t concentrate on.’’
Lightning 4, Canadiens 3 — Ryan Malone scored 4:09 into overtime to give visiting Tampa Bay the victory.
Capitals 2, Islanders 1 — Nicklas Backstrom deflected in Alex Ovechkin’s drive from the point on a power play with 3:39 left to lift host Washington. With New York’s Blake Comeau off for roughing, Ovechkin whistled a shot from long range that Backstrom tipped past goalie Dwayne Roloson for his first goal of the season.
Predators 3, Blackhawks 2 — Joel Ward’s power-play goal with 26.7 seconds remaining in the third period snapped a tie and sparked visiting Nashville.
Ducks 4, Canucks 3 — Ryan Getzlaf set up Corey Perry’s tying goal and Bobby Ryan’s go-ahead score 1:18 apart in the third period, and host Anaheim (1-3) earned its first victory of the season.
The Flyers are moving up the start time of their home game against the Penguins Saturday night to avoid a full conflict with the Philadelphia Phillies’ playoff game across the street. The Flyers and Penguins will face off at 6 p.m. — one hour earlier than the scheduled start time. The Phillies will play the San Francisco Giants in the opener of the National League Championship Series at 7:57 at Citizens Bank Park.