ST. LOUIS -- The chants of "Marty! Marty! Marty!" rained down from Scottrade Center on Monday as though Martin Brodeur has played for the St. Louis Blues and their fans for ages.
They may know him from afar playing for the New Jersey Devils for 21 years, but now the 42-year-old is their own, and Blues fans wouldn't have it any other way.
And Brodeur's repayment for their gratitude: he still has what it takes.
Brodeur made 32 saves, including 17 in the second period, to lead the Blues to a 4-2 victory against the Florida Panthers.
Brodeur collected his 690th career victory, second in as many games and 41st against the Panthers. He also earned another $20,000 in bonus money as part of his contract for every point the Blues (18-8-2) earn when he's in goal.
"I didn't know what to expect coming in," said Brodeur, who received a pre-game video tribute welcoming him to St. Louis. "It's all about winning. When you win, I think the fans are able to be a little more cheerful.
"They acknowledged before the game with a little video, and I didn't expect that. A lot of good things. I'm really happy to be here. For the first visit in front of these fans, we didn't disappoint. We played well. I did my part."
The Blues played without Alexander Steen (lower body) and David Backes, who left the game in the first period, came back but left again in the third after he took a puck to the mouth off a teammate's stick. St. Louis turned to its gritty fourth line for assistance.
Chris Porter's redirection of a Barret Jackman point shot with 1:54 remaining provided the winning goal. Paul Stastny scored into an empty net with 31.3 seconds remaining.
Maxim Lapierre and Ian Cole scored for the Blues, who jumped over the Chicago Blackhawks into first place in the Central Division. Porter had a goal and an assist for his first points of the season.
"We had a very solid period in the first period, kind of got away from it in the second and then the third was very solid and played well," Cole said. "Still probably gave them way too many chances."
The Blues lost Backes for more than half of the first period after he was struck in the mouth by a T.J. Oshie shot on a power play. Backes left but returned in the second, only to leave again in the third.
That's when the grinders took some offense into their own hands.
Porter was parked in the high slot and was able to redirect Jackman's shot over the right shoulder.
"No, but I saw he was going to shoot and just trying to get a stick on it and hopefully it'll go in," Porter said when asked if he called for Jackman's shot. "... They're harder to get a read on [tips from the high slot], but I think a lot of those ones from up high tend to go in just because the goalie's not able to get a great read on it."
"Tough way to lose," Luongo said. "We battled back and carried most of the play. Heartbreaker to lose like that. Obviously the first was unacceptable. We weren’t happy with the way we played. We showed some character the way we came back against a tough team in a tough building."
Down 2-0, the Panthers came back on a second-period goal from Bjugstad, and tied it on Ekblad's goal with 5:06 remaining.
"The last 40 minutes we played hard and played well and took it to a really good team," Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. "Disappointed to lose the way we did at the end. The effort was there. We had more chances, we didn’t deserve to lose like that at the end but they are a good team and find ways to win."
After the Blues failed to convert on a two-man advantage for 1:55, Lapierre came out from behind the goal, turned and whirled the puck into the slot and it deflected off the skate of Florida's Vincent Trocheck and past Luongo at 11:17 of the first.
Cole's third of the season came off a nifty give-and-go play by Vladimir Tarasenko and Jori Lehtera. Cole skated down the slot for a one-timer off the stick of Jonathan Huberdeau with 2:26 left in the first for a 2-0 lead. He joked that Lehtera's feed could have been a little better.
"It was actually a little behind me," Cole said. "I couldn't really get it as high as I wanted to. I'm a little miffed that he didn't put it right in my wheelhouse. I had to adjust to it a little bit."
Did Cole tell Lehtera that?
"I didn't tell him that. I don't speak Finnish," Cole joked.
Bjugstad's team-leading 12th of the season snapped Florida's goal drought against the Blues and cut the deficit to 2-1. He beat Brodeur with a shot stick side at 15:21 of the second period for Florida's first goal against St. Louis in 202:14. The Panthers' most-recent goal against the Blues was Oct. 17, 2011 by Mike Santorelli. The Blues shut the Panthers out in two games last season.
Brodeur made several nice saves during Florida's 18-shot second, including a point-blank save on Brandon Pirri one minute into the period. It was the most shots the Blues have allowed in a period this season.
Ekblad's fifth of the season, which extended his point streak to five games (three goals, four assists), came after Kevin Shattenkirk's stick broke in the Blues zone. Shattenkirk got a stick from Oshie, who momentarily vacated his spot to try and retrieve a stick, which left Ekblad open for the cross-ice pass from Jussi Jokinen. Ekblad's shot caromed off the stick Oshie gave to Shattenkirk past Brodeur with 5:06 remaining to tie the game 2-2.
But Brodeur made his St. Louis debut a successful one by playing his third game in five nights. After not playing competitively in eight months, Brodeur said he needs a little work.
"Yeah, I think it's time to practice now a little bit," Brodeur said. "... I'd like to be a little more steady, but I've only had two full practices starting my journey here in St. Louis. I'm looking forward to the next two days getting everything sharpened again.
"I think we survived. It wasn't pretty, but we got it done. There are games that are going to be a lot easier to win. This one was a tough one."