In a harsh reminder that he no longer plays for the hometown Devils, the star defenseman who won three championships with New Jersey felt the wrath of those who used to cheer his successes.
In his first trip to the Garden State as an enemy, he earned an assist in the Anaheim Ducks' 2-1 victory Friday night.
"In some ways you take that as a bit of a compliment," said Niedermayer, who joined the Ducks in 2005. "Obviously they didn't want you to leave, so in that respect it was good."
Niedermayer helped set up one of Ryan Carter's first two NHL goals in the opening period, and Jonas Hiller made them stand up -- stopping 34 shots to give the Ducks a three-game sweep of the New York-area teams.
"It wasn't another game," Niedermayer said. "I didn't sleep that well. Usually I'm able to nap pretty easily, and I didn't. I was excited. It was a special night for sure."
Often it's the Ducks' other high-profile defenseman, Chris Pronger, who draws the venom from the crowd. Niedermayer happily took the heat.
"It was a good break for Prongs. I'm glad to chip in like that," Niedermayer said.
"He wasn't sure what to expect. I gave him a few pointers on how to accept some of the boos," Pronger said. "I thought he did pretty good."
Playing a metropolitan team for the third time in four nights, the Ducks grabbed a 2-0 lead. Hiller protected it by stopping 15 shots in the third. The Devils had three of their five power plays in the period, including one for the final 45 seconds after Carter accidentally shot the puck into the stands.
"I sweated a little more in the last 45 seconds in the penalty box than I think I had the whole game," Carter said.
Niedermayer also served a late penalty as the Devils pressed for the tying goal.
Even they were talking about Niedermayer's return and the boos.
"It's normal. People are attached to their Devils," Brodeur said. "He made a decision to go somewhere else. Die-hard Devils fans feel disappointed he's not with us."
Carter came in with four assists in 27 games, but showed skill in finding the net. Scoring against Brodeur, second in career NHL victories, didn't carry any special significance.
"He's one of the best goalies, maybe one of the best ever, but all the goalies in this league are good nowadays," Carter said. "When you get the first one the flood gates open and maybe that's the case here."
The Ducks topped New York's Islanders and Rangers this week as part of a team-record, nine-game road trip, on the heels of a six-game skid. They head to Detroit and Colorado before finishing their 15-day jaunt.
Anaheim hadn't played in New Jersey during the regular season since an overtime defeat on Nov. 12, 2002, a year before losing Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals there. The Ducks' previous road win over the Devils came Feb. 11, 1996.
New Jersey lost at home for the sixth time in seven, squandering a chance to move into first place in the Atlantic Division. The Devils, 2-4-1 in their past seven, trail Philadelphia and Pittsburgh by a point.
"It seems that we need a wakeup call," Brodeur said. "For whatever reason, we seem to need to get down a few goals to get our game going. We have to find ways to have better starts."
Carter, who has spent two long stints in the minor leagues this season, had two goals and an assist in the New York area after sitting out at St. Louis and Philadelphia.
His first goal came after passes by Niedermayer and Francois Beauchemin set him up at 10:12.
Soon after, Carter steamed across the blue line, cut past Johnny Oduya, and then eluded defenseman Paul Martin with a move toward the center. Carter quickly snapped off a shot that beat Brodeur at 17:53.
He had three of Anaheim's nine shots in the period.
New Jersey cut into the deficit with 4:24 left in the second when Pandolfo got a piece of Vitaly Vishnevski's shot from the top of the left circle.
Pandolfo has a goal and assist in three games since returning from a 28-game absence caused by an abdominal injury.
That spoiled the shutout bid of the rookie Hiller, who gave No. 1 netminder Jean-Sebastien Giguere a rest following a three-game in seven-day stretch in which Giguere stopped 77 of 78 shots.
"We played defensively pretty good. I know they didn't have too many second opportunities," said Hiller, 5-4-1 in 15 games. "I had to stop the first shot and it worked out pretty well."
- Anaheim LW Travis Moen (flu) sat out a third game. Ducks coach Randy Carlyle hopes to have him back Sunday in Detroit. He said Moen had dropped 10 pounds.
- New Jersey D Mike Mottau, who wears Niedermayer's familiar No. 27, was scratched.
- The Ducks killed all five short-handed situations.