Brodeur lets himself off the hook

New Jersey Devils defenceman Anton Volchenkov congratulates a grinning Martin Brodeur after he shut...

New Jersey Devils defenceman Anton Volchenkov congratulates a grinning Martin Brodeur after he shut out the Florida Panthers in Game 4 of their NHL Eastern Conference quarterfinal hockey series in Newark, New Jersey, April 19, 2012. (REUTERS)

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 12:00 AM ET

Martin Brodeur was not happy about getting the hook Tuesday in Game 3 of the series between the New Jersey Devils and Florida Panthers.

It was the sixth time Brodeur had been pulled in a playoff game, but the first time it had happened since 2006.

Coincidently, Brodeur was replaced by Scott Clemmensen back in 2006, who got the start for the Devils Thursday. Clemmensen came in for Jose Theodore Tuesday and held the fort as the Panthers fought back from a 3-0 deficit to win 4-3.

On Thursday, to no one's surprise, Brodeur bounced back strong, going on to pitch his 24th career playoff shutout, surpassing Patrick Roy for most in NHL history.

Traditionally the Devils goaltender has always responded, heading into the contest with .949 save percentage in games after he was pulled.

The veteran turned aside 26 shots in the 4-0 win Thursday, helping the Devils tie the series 2-2.

Clemmensen, meanwhile, who had seven minutes of playoff experience before replacing Theodore in Game 3, gave up four goals on 27 shots and will probably be back on the bench when the series resumes in South Florida.

GREAT ONE WEIGHS IN

Wayne Gretzky knows a thing or two about playing in the post-season, having won four Stanley Cups in his career.

But even the Great One has been surprised by the chippy play, fights and cheap shots so far through the first round of this year's playoffs, particularly those involving star players.

"They talk about the Flyers back in the '70s, guys like Bobby Kelly, Moose Dupont and Dave Schultz, but you never really saw those guys go after guys like Bobby Orr or Mario Lemieux or Phil Esposito," Gretzky told 97.5 radio in Philadelphia Thursday. "It was just sort of honest, hard, rough-nosed hockey, and it has changed, there's no question.

"The bottom line is you've got to win the hockey game. That's where it hurts the most, not cross-checking the guy in the face. It's winning the hockey game that hurts the most."

USING THE ADVANTAGE

The Panthers went into Game 3 having connected on an impressive 60% of their power-play opportunities in the series.

However, things ran dry for them in Game 4, going 0-for-6 with the man advantage against the Devils.

Surprisingly, the Panthers weren't alone atop the power-play rankings heading into Thursday night's play. The Philadelphia Flyers had also connected on 60% of their opportunities in their series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Panthers had six goals in 10 opportunities heading into Thursday's game, while the Flyers have connected on nine of 15 chances.

The Flyers now have sole possession of the top power play in the post-season.

Money where your mouth is

Smashing an opponent's head into the glass cost Nashville Predators defenceman Shea Weber $2,500, but apparently slamming the officials is a lot more expensive.

On Thursday, the NHL fined Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville $10,000 for his rant after Raffi Torres laid out Marian Hossa with a nasty hit in Game 3 Tuesday.

Torres was not penalized on the play, while Hossa had to be taken off the ice on a stretcher.

Quenneville, who got a good look at the hit as it occurred in front of the Blackhawks' bench, ripped into the officials during a live on-bench interview, then continued to lambaste them in his post-game media availability.

Torres was suspended indefinitely for the hit and will have a hearing with the league Friday to plead his case.

BRAIN CRAMP

Imagine a goaltender heading out on the ice forgetting to strap on his pads properly.

That's akin to an enforcer not tying down his jersey.

Paul Bissonnette had seven fighting majors this season, but somehow forgot to tie his jersey down before stepping on the ice Thursday against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Bissonnette was issued a game misconduct for his infraction after getting into a fight with Blackhawks winger Brandon Bollig.

It's not as though Bissonnette was out there for his scoring prowess. Perhaps the winger was eager to get to his phone, where he could send out a tweet, to his more than 258,000 followers.

He had sent one out after Game 3, posting a picture of himself sitting on the bench and labeling it an 'action shot.'

IN GOOD COMPANY

Braden Holtby is following in the footsteps of a couple of legendary goaltenders who were relative unknowns heading into the playoffs before starring in them.

The Washington Capitals rookie goaltender, who was pressed into action due to injuries to Tomas Vokoun and Michal Neuvirth, was outstanding Thursday, turning away 44 shots in a 2-1 win over the Boston Bruins.

Holtby, 22, a Lloydminster, Alta., product, was the Capitals fourth-round pick (93rd overall) in the 2008 NHL draft.

He played in 14 games with the Capitals last season and seven this year, spending the majority of the season with the team's AHL affiliate in Hershey.

Patrick Roy and Ken Dryden made similar debuts for the Montreal Canadiens back in their day.

EXTRA EFFORT

The Phoenix Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks have yet to settle matters in regulation.

The teams needed overtime to settle their affair for the fourth consecutive time Thursday, with Mikkel Boedker scoring the winner for the Coyotes.

Itís the second time Boedker has scored in overtime in the series, also netting the winner in Game 3 Tuesday.

The Coyotes won the opening game in an extra session and now take a 3-1 lead back into the desert.

It was the sixth straight time the Blackhawks have gone into overtime in the playoffs, dating back to their final two games against the Vancouver Canucks last season.

CLOCK ISSUES

It must have seemed like the longest 9.5 seconds of all time to the Washington Capitals.

Had it not been for a great save from goaltender Braden Holtby, it would have been one of the most controversial plays in these Stanley Cup playoffs.

With 9.5 seconds left in their game against the Boston Bruins, and the face-off deep in the Capitals zone, the puck was dropped and the time keepers did not start the clock for over five seconds.

The Bruins worked the puck around zone and as time on the clock was expiring, Holtby made a great glove save on Boston's Patrice Bergeron in front, preserving a 2-1 win.

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

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