Divine in Devils' den

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 6:54 AM ET

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- You had to expect a goalie with a Francophone surname would make the difference.

It's been that way for more than a decade almost every time the puck is dropped in New Jersey's Continental Airlines Arena.

But it wasn't longtime star Martin Brodeur holding hero honours last night.

Instead, Calgary Flames netminder Philippe Sauve was man of the hour in a 4-1 victory over the Devils.

"He was really good early and you knew he'd have to be," said Flames head coach-GM Darryl Sutter. "It was a good challenge for him against Marty. Every young French goalie looks up to Marty Brodeur."

With the victory, Calgary finished its five-game road swing with a 3-1-1 record and reclaimed top spot in the Northwest Division from the Vancouver Canucks.

"If we'd have saved one goal for Nashville and one goal for Philly, we'd have won all five," quipped Sutter.

"Give our players credit -- it was a tough trip, a lot of games in a short period of time. I was more worried about this game than any other game on the trip.

"The Philadelphia game was one we knew was going to be a physical game -- it was like a playoff game with that much contact -- and it took a lot out of our team. I think that's why we weren't as good early."

Indeed, Sauve -- spelling off Miikka Kiprusoff between the pipes for the first time in more than two weeks -- hardly had an easy night despite what the scoreboard might indicate.

He was under siege throughout the opening period when the Devils outshot the visitors 13-2. Yet the only puck to beat the netminder was Alexander Mogilny's top-corner powerplay tally.

Said Sauve: "We had maybe a little slow start, maybe slower than we expected, but after that, it was night and day.

"We played real well. There were a lot of shots but it didn't seem like it because the defencemen were taking that guy away from the front of the net."

The first period ended 1-1 thanks to captain Jarome Iginla, who ended his nine-game goal drought by tallying on the powerplay with just over a minute left in the frame. He drove to the front of the net from deep in the zone and tucked the puck past Brodeur.

"It was nice to see it go into the net," said Iginla, whose goal was the first of three straight shots to beat the Devils' star netminder.

The next puck sent Brodeur's way came from Dion Phaneuf 48 seconds into the second period. Set up for the one-timer at the top of the circle while his team was enjoying a five-on-three advantage, the rookie blasted a blocker-side one-timer.

A mere 38 seconds later, on only the Flames' fourth shot of the game, Daymond Langkow extended the lead with a sharp-angled wrister.

Shot No. 7 was lucky, too.

Iginla grabbed the puck in the corner and sent a pass across the crease which ricocheted off Paul Martin's foot past Brodeur.

Flames defenceman Roman Hamrlik left early after suffering a knee injury following a hard hit from Grant Marshall.

Calgary returns home to meet the Ottawa Senators Saturday (8 p.m.).

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CALGARY FLAMES: 4

NEW JERSEY DEVILS: 1


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