NEWARK, New Jersey (Ticker) -- The song "Happy days are here
again" echoed throughout the Prudential Center before the New
Jersey Devils took the ice for pregame warm-ups. In Martin
Brodeur's much-anticipated return, its message sure rang true.
After missing four months with a devastating injury, Brodeur
made 24 saves and All-Star Zach Parise and Travis Zajac each
recorded a goal and two assists as the Devils blanked the
Colorado Avalanche, 4-0, on Thursday.
Captain Jamie Langenbrunner scored a goal and set up another,
Patrik Elias also tallied and defenseman Paul Martin notched two
assists for New Jersey, which went 32-17-1 without Brodeur.
A four-time Vezina Trophy winner, Brodeur turned aside five
shots in the first period, 12 in the second and seven in the
third to register his third shutout of the season and 99th
career - leaving him four behind Terry Sawchuk's all-time mark
Brodeur also recorded his 545th career win, pulling within six
of Patrick Roy's all-time record.
Andrew Raycroft stopped 28 shots for Colorado, which has lost
three in a row.
The 36-year-old Brodeur was not tested often but appeared to
shake off whatever rust built up from not playing since a 6-1
win over the Atlanta Thrashers on November 1, when he suffered a
tear in his distal biceps muscle in his left arm. He also
received plenty of help on the offensive end.
Langenbrunner opened the scoring at 4:38 of the opening period,
accepting a pass from Zajac and firing a hard slap shot from the
right faceoff circle that sailed by Raycroft.
In the following session, Elias doubled the lead by lifting a
wrist shot into the vacant net while stationed on the doorstep
Parise netted his team-leading 36th goal of the season, skating
in toward the low slot and using a nifty deke before beating
Raycroft at 8:06 of the third. Zajac secured the victory with a
wrister with 3:13 remaining in the contest.
The Devils, who suffered a 4-0 blanking to the lowly New York
Islanders on Saturday, improved to 6-1-0 in games after being