Even in the postseason, Martin Brodeur continues to reach career milestones.
The New Jersey Devils goalie stopped 24 shots, earning his 100th career playoff win as New Jersey defeated the Florida Panthers, 3-2, in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at Bank Atlantic Center.
New Jersey jumped all over the Panthers in the first period, closing out the opening frame with a 3-0 lead. Patrik Elias scored the first goal of the series, beating Jose Theodore at the 6:51 mark to give New Jersey the 1-0 lead. Dainius Zubrus started the play, picking off a pass in the offensive zone. He sent a cross-ice pass to Elias, who was all alone in the left circle. Elias moved in alone on Jose Theodore, who went down to block the bottom of the net. The Devils' center stickhandled and put his shot over Theodore for the early lead.
That goal was the 41st career playoff score for Elias. He know has 118 postseason points (41g, 77a).
The Devils struck twice in 45 seconds, blowing the game open later in the period.
Zubrus started the surge, netting a powerplay tally at the 14:11 mark. Martin Brodeur skated to the middle of the Devils end, firing a pass up to David Clarkson at the Panthers blue line. He sent a backhanded pass to Zubrus, who moved into the slot alone on Theodore. His shot beat the Panthers goalie to the short side for his first goal of the playoffs.
Ryan Carter scored the third goal of the period, extending the Devils lead to 3-0 at 14:56 of the first period. The former Panther stripped Ed Jovanovski of the puck in the neutral zone, and carried it in on Theodore. He put a shot glove side for his first goal of the postseason, and the eventual game-winner.
New Jersey was the better team in the first period, outshooting the Panthers, 26-9. That shot total broke a franchise playoff record for shots in period. The Devils previous record was 20 shots during the second period of a game against the New York Rangers on May 11, 1997.
Florida responded in the second period, cutting the lead to one.
Sean Bergenheim put Florida on the board at 7:44 of the middle frame. Bergenheim entered the Devils zone along the side boards, skating around Anton Volchenkov. He cut to the front of the net and beat Brodeur with a chip shot inside the far post for his 10th career playoff goal.
Kris Versteeg cut the lead to 3-2 with a powerplay goal at the 15:42 mark of the second period. Versteeg held the puck near the side boards, and split the Devils penalty killers. He skated in alone on net, sliding the puck through Brodeur's five-hole for his first goal of the postseason.
Versteeg now has six goals in five games against the Devils this season.
Theodore faced only 12 shots between the second and third period, and finished with 35 saves in the loss.
Game 2 will be Sunday at the Bank Atlantic Center.