A goaltending matchup tonight by two Vets who squared off in the 2003 Cup Finals, hometown hero Martin Brodeur welcomed Avs netminder Jenn-Sebastian Gigure in a game who's main focus was primarily on two men, nearly HALF their age; Gabriel Langdeskog of Colorado, 19 years of age, visiting Devils rookie sensation, 22 year old Adam Henrique. Henrique entering play tonight tied with Langdeskog, 46pts a piece; Henrique, playing in 10 fewer games then the Colorado rookie.
The first period was a bit, well, un eventful and somewhat boring if you ask me personally. Not much action, 13 total shots, 8 for the Avs, 5 for New Jersey; 2 penalties, one per team. Parise got the call for a hook with about 9 minutes left in the period while Colorado's Shane O'Brien too, was found guilty of a hooking penalty. Both minors were killed off. New Jersey though, on the positive side, managed to improve their league best penalty killing unit shutting down the Avs' lone opportunity. All in all, like I wrote before, a very bland first period, not many opportunities, both goalies looked solid, which is a plus for Marty, but all together, the teams as a whole looked, equal.
23 shots taken in the middle period by the two clubs, like the first period though, no goals the result. Opportunities though... WOW. Jacob Josefson, poor kid, couldnt bury the puck on not one, but THREE WIDE OPEN NETS resulting in three missed opportunities which CLEARLY could have been goals. Along with Josefson's FLOPS, Colorado shooters had their fair share of opportunities, a break away opportunity shut down by the skate of Brodeur, along with a sprawling scissor-kick, pad save, all in the second period. No penalties, no goals, same story.
As if you couldnt get the re-occuring theme here, THIS period like the previous two, would end scoreless. More opportunities, more saves, no penalties, nothing more, nothing less. The one outstanding statistic on the evening was shots on goal. New Jersey cranked 15 shots, allowing 7 to hit Brodeur. Like Marty, on the opposite end of the ice, it was J.S. Gigure, recording stop after stop, CLEARLY the more difficult saves ultimately leading him to get credited with 2nd Star of the evening, behind Brodeur, 1st Star. A few frantic scoring opportunities by the Devils in the closing minutes, would all be pushed aside or gobbled up by "nearly" flawless, Giggy. Time would expire, ending a 60 minute scoreless drought, forcing a 5 minute sudden death period between the two winningest teams in extra time this season, combining for a grand total of 27 wins in O.T. or the S.O.
It only seemed fitting that this game would go for the extra 5 minutes. 3 shots hit each respective goaltender; no real leget opportunities or obvious scoring chances. No calls, and yet, AGAIN, NO GOALS! A goaltenders duel at the Rock was a shootout away from a conclusion, a winner, and a very important extra point.
The shootout. Martin Brodeur, credited with his 118th Career Shutout, along side Giggy's, 36th of his respective career; a few shutouts shy of Marty's All-Time NHL Record. Another Brodeur statistic would be added to this evening as he'd manage to shut down BOTH Milan Hejduk and Peter Mueller of the Avalanche in the shootout, getting aid from prolific scorers, Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk (in reverse order) who both went out, and totally unlaced J.S. Gigure, planting the eventualy game winners in the net. 2-0 the shootout would conclude, in favor of the Devs.
The next game for New Jersey will be this Saturday in an afternoon matinee, St. Patricks Day against the streaking Pittsburgh Penguins, led out of Manhattan and into Newark by the return of Sid the Kid, Evgeni Malkin, and Marc-Andre Fleury on Retro Day. This afternoon showcasing will feature the Devils wearing throwbacks for the 3rd consecutive season for the Irish holiday. New Jersey beat the Pens 5-2 in the inagural "Vintage Jersey Game", two seasons ago. The Devils have managed to maintian 6th place in the East witha 5pt lead over the 7th seeded Ottawa Senators and trails 5th placed Philadelphia by a mere 2pts with 11 games left on the schedule.
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