"If he would've got in a fight, he would've done a little bit of everything for us," DeBoer said.
Brodeur scored his third career goal and made 17 saves in his first game in a month, leading New Jersey to a 4-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.
Brodeur had been out since Feb. 21 with a pinched nerve in his upper back and neck. New Jersey went 3-8-2 in his absence.
"You know him coming back, he's going to give you a boost," New Jersey's Travis Zajac said. "But he was just awesome today."
Peter Harrold, Adam Henrique and Andrei Loktionov also scored to help the Devils snap a three-game losing streak. Brodeur's play was the 13th time in NHL history that a goaltender was credited with a goal, according to the league.
Jeff Skinner had the Hurricanes' lone goal while Dan Ellis made 19 saves.
Carolina has dropped five in a row to fall from the top of the Southeast Division. The Hurricanes have been outscored 17-6 during that stretch.
Carolina and New Jersey began the night tied in the Eastern Conference standings with 32 points apiece.
"This is adversity for us," Carolina coach Kirk Muller said. "We addressed it after the last game — now let's see how we handle it. We're upset tonight about our performance."
Brodeur got credit for the game's first goal when Carolina's Jordan Staal passed the puck to the point from behind the net after a delayed penalty call against New Jersey's Marek Zidlicky.
The pass missed intended target Tim Gleason and bounced off the boards near centre ice. Ellis had already skated toward the bench because of the delayed penalty and couldn't get back in time to prevent the puck from sliding into the net.
Because he was the last Devils player to touch the puck, Brodeur got credit for the score. With Carolina's Alexander Semin in the penalty box, it counted as a power-play goal.
"When the puck went in the net, I was like, 'Woah, what happened there?'" said Brodeur, who had been paying attention to what was going on in front of his net.
"I didn't even know we had a delayed penalty or anything. So it was a little surprising, and then (Ilya Kovalchuk) said, 'You scored the goal!' With a Russian accent, too."
According to Elias Sports Bureau, Brodeur is the first goalie to score a power-play goal since Evgeni Nabokov for San Jose in 2002.
Brodeur made a series of tough saves after his goal, but after the Devils weathered that initial flurry, the Hurricanes had few quality chances for the remainder of the game. Carolina's 18 shots were a season low.
"Bottom line is accountability," Muller said. "Everyone's got to come ready and start pulling their weight here. When we do it as a team, we're a good team — we can play with anyone in the East."
New Jersey broke the game open with two goals in a 46-second span in the second period.
Henrique scored after Adam Larsson's wrist shot from the point hit Kovalchuk in front of the Hurricanes' net. Henrique got his stick on the puck and lofted it past Ellis.
Harrold then made it made it 3-0 after Patrik Elias' shot from the slot was blocked. The puck bounced to Harrold, who backhanded it past Ellis from the left side.
Skinner spoiled Brodeur's bid for a shutout when his slap shot went in for a power-play goal with 8:33 left in the game. But the Devils still managed to stop a six-game road losing streak.
"This was a big two points for us from the confidence point of view," DeBoer said. "We haven't won in the road in a while. It's a good start for us, and we've got to build on it when we go home."
NOTES: Tuomo Ruutu played his first game of the season for the Hurricanes after undergoing hip surgery in December. ... Carolina defenceman Bobby Sanguinetti appeared to injure his left arm after being tripped by New Jersey's Harri Pesonen into the boards with 9:15 remaining. He skated immediately to the dressing room and did not return. ... Ellis left with 50.2 seconds remaining after sustaining a cut.