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Devils shut down Penguins offense, 4-0

| Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2009

Given how easily the New Jersey Devils dispatched of the Penguins in their first two meetings, it probably shouldn't have come as a surprise that Marty Brodeur made history Monday at Mellon Arena.

The Devils continued their mastery of the Penguins, and Brodeur became the NHL's all-time shutout king in New Jersey's 4-0 victory.

New Jersey won for a third straight time at Mellon Arena, having already beaten the Penguins by 4-1 scores in their first two meetings.

Brodeur stopped all 35 Penguins shots, surpassing Terry Sawchuk for first place on the NHL's all-time list with his 104th shutout.

"I thought you could see pretty early that he was locked in," said Mike Rupp, a former teammate of Brodeur. "He was great, just like usual."

The Penguins have been great most of the season, but not when the Devils are the opposition. Having been outscored 12-2 in three games on their home ice can't sit well with the Stanley Cup champions.

Despite the score, captain Sidney Crosby didn't feel like the Penguins were overwhelmed.

"I actually thought we controlled the first period," he said. "We just had a bad second period, and they had a great second period. That was the difference."

Bryce Salvador scored 4:39 into the first period when his shot floated from the left point and past Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who stopped only 12 of 16 shots before being yanked in the second period.

Niclas Bergfors, Patrik Elias and Mark Fraser scored second-period goals for the Devils, the last of which chased Fleury.

"You have to give them a lot of credit," Penguins left wing Matt Cooke said. "They're just a good, hard-working hockey team. They stick to their system, and they're very hard to play against when they have a lead."

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma isn't worried about any psychological edge the Devils may have, nor the possibility that the New Jersey could enjoy a tiebreaker advantage should the two teams finish with the same number of points.

He took the more practical approach.

"It just means that they're two points ahead of us," Bylsma said.

New Jersey is 26-8-1, its 53 points representing the NHL's highest total.

The Penguins lost center Jordan Staal for most of the second period. Staal required assistance leaving the ice after a deflected puck hit him on the nose, leaving a trail of blood on the ice.

He returned in the third period, wearing a full facial mask.

"He's not as pretty as he was before," Bylsma said. "But I think he'll be fine."

There is nothing pretty about the Penguins' work against New Jersey this season. In what has been a problem all season, the Penguins again struggled on the power play.

Unlike the previous three games that had seen the power play show signs of life with Malkin playing the left point, the Penguins were lifeless with the man advantage, going 0-for-5.

"They played a good game," Bylsma said. "They played exactly as you'd expect them to play."

The Penguins return to action Wednesday at Mellon Arena against Ottawa.

"We just didn't play well enough tonight," Cooke said. "You have to play well to beat that team."

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