GAME: New Jersey Devils (39-23-12-2) at Tampa Bay Lightning (43-21-8-5).
TIME: Thursday, 7 p.m. EST.
Martin Brodeur has racked up a few impressive milestones this season. The New Jersey Devils' star goaltender is just glad to reach another one so his team can focus on the Eastern Conference playoff race.
After becoming the youngest goaltender in NHL history to reach 400 wins, Brodeur looks to lead the Devils to another crucial victory when they visit the East-leading Tampa Bay Lightning.
Brodeur, 31, improved to 400-215-105 in his 12-year career with a 4-3 overtime win over Florida on Tuesday.
"It's nice to get it over with," he said. "I didn't want it to drag. I wanted to get it out of the way. It's definitely nice, but it stays at that. Hopefully, I can close on other people and we can accomplish other things."
Scott Niedermayer scored in overtime to give Brodeur the win after he made 21 saves to reach the milestone following two failed attempts.
On Feb. 25, Brodeur became the first goaltender with nine straight 30-win seasons. He is the only goalie with four 40-win seasons and is the first to reach 400 playing every game for the same team. Patrick Roy is the career leader with 551 victories.
The Devils need Brodeur to keep adding to that total as they battle for playoff positioning in the East. New Jersey is six points behind Philadelphia for the Atlantic Division lead, but faces a realistic chance of finishing as low as seventh in the conference. In addition to their division hopes, the Devils are trying to beat out Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal for the fourth spot in the East and home-ice advantage in the first round.
Niedermayer's goal was the eighth of his career in overtime - the most ever by a defenseman.
Patrik Elias and Scott Gomez each had two assists for the Devils, who have lost all three meetings with the Lightning this season.
The Lightning closed out one of the NHL's best road seasons of 2003-04 on Tuesday, improving their away mark to 22-12-4-3 with a 7-2 rout of Toronto.
Martin St. Louis picked up three assists to give him 89 points, tops in the NHL and a franchise high for Tampa Bay.
The Lightning had never won more than 17 games on the road prior to this season and entered 2003-04 with a 118-257-52-9 road record.
"That's a big step for this team," Lightning coach John Tortorella said. "A couple of years ago we really struggled on the road. We're 10 games over .500. Our road season is over and it's nice to end it with a win."
The Lightning, who had dropped four of five coming into Tuesday's game, maintained a one-point lead over Philadelphia for first place in the Eastern Conference. The Lightning have already captured the Southeast Division and are guaranteed no lower than the third seed.
"I think people are starting to take us seriously," center Vincent Lecavalier said.
Tampa Bay plays its final five games at home, and is 21-9-4-2 at the St. Pete Times Forum after winning eight of their last 10 there. The Lightning also face Washington, Ottawa and Florida before closing the season against Atlanta on April 3.
STANDINGS: Devils - 92 points, 2nd place, 6 PB, Atlantic Division. Lightning - 99 points, 1st place, Southeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Devils - Elias, 34 goals and 69 points; Gomez, 49 assists; Colin White, 89 PIM. Lightning - St. Louis, 35 goals, 54 assists and 89 points; Chris Dingman, 138 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 23): Devils - Power play: 15.1 percent (42 for 278), 21st in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.6 percent (209 for 247), 8th (tied). Lightning - Power play: 16.8 percent (54 for 322), 13th. Penalty killing: 84.4 percent (222 for 263), 14th.
GOALTENDERS: Devils - Brodeur (35-24-11, 10 SO, 2.04 GAA); Corey Schwab (2-0-1, 1, 0.64). Lightning - Nikolai Khabibulin (26-17-7, 3, 2.34); John Grahame (17-9-1, 1, 2.03).
SEASON SERIES: Lightning, 3-0.
LAST MEETING: March 5; Lightning 3-2, OT. At Tampa, Fla., Lecavalier scored the tying goal with 9.6 seconds left in the third period, and Andreychuk scored 2:17 into overtime to lift the Lightning.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Devils - 19-11-7-1 on the road; Lightning - 21-9-4-2 at home.
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