Wild top Devils
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Wild scored three goals on their first four shots and sent New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur to the bench in the first period of a 4-2 win over the Devils on Friday night.
Dany Heatley, Kyle Brodziak and Casey Wellman scored in a 3:03 span of the first period to turn an early deficit into a 3-1 lead and knock Brodeur out of the game just 8:17 in.
Brodziak sealed the win with another goal in the third period. Niklas Backstrom made seven saves in the first period, and Josh Harding, who played the final two periods, stopped all 22 shots he faced for Minnesota.
Zach Parise had a goal and an assist, and Ilya Kovalchuk also scored for the Devils. Johan Hedberg made 11 saves in relief of Brodeur.
Minnesota (16-7-3) leads the NHL with 35 points, one more than Pittsburgh.
After Parise scored 2:54 in to give the Devils the lead, the Wild broke out. Just 20 seconds after Parise's tip-in goal, Heatley skated down the right side of the ice and beat Brodeur to tie it 1-1.
Brodziak gave Minnesota the lead when he knocked in the rebound of his shot over a sprawled Brodeur (5-7) at 6:55. Only 1:22 later, Wellman tipped Matt Cullen's shot past Brodeur to make it 3-1.
First-year Devils coach Pete DeBoer had seen enough and yanked Brodeur for the first time this season. Brodeur has struggled recently, giving up three goals earlier in the week in a loss to the New York Islanders and allowing six in a loss at Colorado on Wednesday.
Brodeur went immediately to the locker room and did not return to the bench.
The 12 goals are the most given up by Brodeur in a three-game span since he allowed 13 in three games and 20 in six games last December. This marked Brodeur's second-shortest outing of his career, just shy of his eight-minute stint at Carolina on Jan. 1 this year.
Backstrom's outing wasn't much longer.
After he stopped seven of nine shots, Backstrom was replaced by Josh Harding to start the second period. Backstrom (10-5-2) was back on the Minnesota bench midway through the frame.
Minnesota had a chance to extend its lead when Mikko Koivu stole a pass and went in on a breakaway with only seconds remaining in the second period, but Hedberg stopped him.
The Devils had a power play midway through the third period, but couldn't net the tying goal. With just more than five minutes to play, Kovalchuk shot a puck that Harding thought might have gotten past him, but the goalie got enough of the puck to keep it out.
With both teams playing a man down, Brodziak gave the Wild a 4-2 lead at 16:24. Brodziak picked up a loose puck at center ice, drove to the net and beat Hedberg on the glove side.
Notes: Wild RW Cal Clutterbuck sat out after taking a knee to the thigh Wednesday at Edmonton. ... This was Minnesota's last home game before a five-game trip that begins Sunday at Anaheim. ... Backstrom was credited with his fifth career assist on Heatley's first-period goal. ... New Jersey RW Dainius Zubrus was in the lineup despite being struck by a puck on his right ankle Wednesday. He missed practice on Thursday. ... Devils D Andy Green returned to the lineup after missing Wednesday's loss at Colorado with a lower-body injury. ... Hedberg is expected to start in goal on Saturday when the Devils play at Winnipeg.
Wild 4, Devils 2
New Jersey 2 0 0--2
Minnesota 3 0 1--4
First Period--1, New Jersey, Parise 7 (Greene, Henrique), 2:54. 2, Minnesota, Heatley 7 (Spurgeon, Backstrom), 3:14. 3, Minnesota, Brodziak 7, 6:55. 4, Minnesota, Wellman 1 (Cullen, Bouchard), 8:17. 5, New Jersey, Kovalchuk 6 (Parise), 13:59. Penalties--Brodziak, Min (slashing), 14:44 Clarkson, NJ (goaltender interference), 17:21.
Second Period--None. Penalties--Gillies, Min (hooking), 5:48.
Third Period--6, Minnesota, Brodziak 8 (Johnson, Scandella), 16:24. Penalties--Schultz, Min (holding), 9:30 Tedenby, NJ (boarding), 15:51 Setoguchi, Min (interference), 16:12 Heatley, Min (hooking), 19:10 Clarkson, NJ (boarding), 19:51.
Shots on goal--New Jersey 9-12-10--31. Minnesota 6-6-4--16.
Power-play Opportunities--New Jersey 0 of 5 Minnesota 0 of 2.
Goalies--New Jersey, Brodeur 5-7-0 (4 shots-1 saves), Hedberg (8:17 first, 12-11). Minnesota, Backstrom 10-5-2 (9-7), Harding (0:00 second, 22-22).
A--17,310 (18,064). T--2:19.
Referees--Dan O'Halloran, Rob Martell. Linesmen--Brian Mach, Lonnie Cameron.