Martin Brodeur picked up right where he left off.
The New Jersey Devils (27-31-4) goalie, making his first start since he sprained an MCL February 6, stopped 24 shots tonight to lead his team over the Florida Panthers (26-29-7), 2-1, at the BankAtlantic Center.
Brodeur, who took the place of Johan Hedberg, kept the Devils in the game during the first period. He made 11 saves, including one with his head, to keep the game scoreless.
Brodeur's offense provided him all the support he needed during the second period. David Clarkson broke the scoreless tie at 5:46 of the period. Clarkson crashed the net as Rod Pelley put a shot on net. Panthers' goalie Tomas Vokoun left a rebound that Clarkson collected and stashed into the net for his ninth goal of the season.
It was Clarkson's first goal in his last 18 games. He last scored on January 15 against the Panthers in a 3-2 overtime loss.
Brian Rolston extended the lead to 2-0 with a powerplay goal at 9:11 of the middle period. Dainius Zubrus won a left circle faceoff draw back to Rolston, who fired a shot past Vokoun for his 11th goal of the season.
Marty Reasoner brought the Panthers to within one at 15:31 of the third period. Michael Repik set up behind the net and found Reasoner low in the zone. The Panthers' center fired a shot past Brodeur for his 13th goal of the season.
Brodeur is now 9-1-1 in his last 11 starts.
With the win, the Devils moved within one point of overtaking Florida for 12th in the conference. The win puts New Jersey nine points away from the Carolina Hurricanes for the eighth seed in the conference.
Adam Mair recored only his third point this season on the Devils' first goal...Hugh Jessiman made his NHL debut tonight. He's the last player from the first round of the 2003 draft to make his NHL debut...Jacob Josefson was a healthy scratch for the Devils tonight.