Devils 5, Coyotes 2
Brodeur made 26 saves to record career win No. 550 and move within one of tying the NHL record.
Now, Martin Brodeur
admits he has something to get excited about.
He needed to beat Phoenix to have a shot at tying Patrick Roy's all-time wins record Saturday in Montreal, and did just that, making 26 saves Thursday to handle the visiting Coyotes, 5-2.
Soon Brodeur will hit the ice in front of his hometown crowd at the Bell Centre looking to make history by matching the mark of a goaltender whose number was retired by the Canadiens last November.
"I'm happy that we won tonight, I'm happy that I'm going to have a chance to tie him up in Montreal," Brodeur said. "It just adds to the story. You couldn't ask for a better script."
The Devils' script against Phoenix included Zach Parise
reaching 40 goals for the first time in his career and Patrik Elias
chipping in with a goal (27) and an assist to move within two points of John MacLean's franchise record (701).
John Madden, Dainius Zubrus
and Travis Zajac
also scored for New Jersey, which set a new franchise mark with its ninth straight win on home ice.
Next, Brodeur heads into a building that he knows will be charged up for a chance to witness history. He has won six of seven since returning from injury on Feb. 26 to help the first-place Devils open up a nine-point lead over Philadelphia in the Atlantic Division.
"It's definitely going to be a different atmosphere, but I expect that there," Brodeur said. "I'll try to be the same. We'll definitely have to monitor what I have to do, and not make it too open for me to be distracted as much as possible. At the end of the day, it's still just a game. It's about me winning a game, and our team winning a game. If we do that, then I'll write a story in the books with that win. It's normal that people put a lot of attention on it, it's just a matter of managing everything. This organization has been good about doing that, and it won't be different for Saturday."
The four-time Vezina Trophy winner plans on sticking to his routine until the puck drops in Montreal.
"I'll try not to think about the situation I'm going to be in," Brodeur said. "I'm just going to go have a good practice (Friday) and see my family and friends (Friday) night, and get myself ready for Saturday."
The Devils made quick work of head coach Wayne Gretzky's Coyotes, striking twice in the opening three minutes of the game. New Jersey held a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes and scored two more in the middle frame.
Parise got things started early for New Jersey, snapping a Jamie Langenbrunner
pass by Phoenix netminder Josh Tordjman just 18 seconds into the game. The fourth-year left wing became the first Devil to notch 40 goals since Brian Gionta recorded a franchise-record 48 in 2005-06.
"It's a good number to hit, but hopefully it's not the end. Hopefully there's a couple in there before the season ends," said Parise, the second-leading goal scorer in the NHL. He has 15 games to add to his total, but commented that he's trying not to concentrate on personal milestones.
"I don't want to allow myself to get caught up in that," Parise said. "Once you start thinking about it too much, it seems then that it doesn't happen. I just want to go out and keep shooting, and hopefully they go in."
Langenbrunner's primary assist gave him his 300th point as a Devil, and extended his points streak to seven games (4g-5a). Paul Martin stretched his assist streak to four games.
"You knew it was going to happen," Langenbrunner said of Parise's milestone. "He plays too hard and puts himself in too many good scoring positions not to get it. It's good to see. It's well-deserved and I'm sure he's not done yet. I'm sure he's got his eye on another number. Hopefully he'll keep playing the way he is and maybe he'll get there."
Madden snapped a 14-game goal drought to put the Devils ahead, 2-0.
Mike Rupp passed cross-ice for Johnny Oduya, who gained the Phoenix blueline and pulled up at the top of the right circle. Oduya put the puck toward the slot for Madden, who one-handed it off the right post for his seventh of the season at 2:56.
Phoenix cut New Jersey's lead in half with Zubrus serving a double-minor for high-sticking.
Matthew Lombardi centered off of Peter Prucha, and Scottie Upshall's swipe from the right circle went off of Madden in front at 9:34 of the first.
New Jersey regained the two-goal cushion in the second.
Zubrus made it 3-1 after collecting Brendan Shanahan's cross-slot pass at the right circle and beating Tordjman with his 14th at 7:11.
An errant Coyotes' pass deep in Devils' territory led to Gionta's 2-on-1 with Elias against Keith Yandle. Gionta slid a pass across to Elias for a shot that hit Tordjman in the chest and rolled between his pads at 10:03.
The Devils improved to 29-3-1 this season when Parise and Elias both record at least one point.
Zajac netted his 19th on the doorstep, sweeping home Brian Rolston
's rebound on a Devils' power play at 4:58 of the third.
Rolston's trio with Elias and Gionta finished with a goal and three helpers. Zubrus, who had centered Elias and Gionta for the much of the season, worked with Shanahan and David Clarkson
"We can't count on one line to do it," Rolston said. "(The Zajac line) will continue to do it, but obviously when the playoffs come around you have to have all four lines contributing and doing good things. That's what's important. It felt good playing with those guys, we got some good scoring opportunities, got a goal and we feel good about it."
Steven Reinprecht added the Coyotes' second goal with 2:08 left in regulation.
Parise became the seventh Devil to hit the 40-goal mark, and the first since Gionta notched a franchise-record 48 in 2005-06. The others are Pat Verbeek (46, 1987-88), John MacLean (45, 1990-91; 42, 1988-89; 41, 1989-90), Alexander Mogilny (43, 2000-01), Claude Lemieux (41, 1991-92), and Patrik Elias
(40, 2000-01). Wilf Paiement scored 41 for the Colorado Rockies in 1976-77.
"Zach is awesome – this is nothing. " Brodeur said. "It's great for him now, but he's going to be looking at different things pretty soon. They're plateaus. He was looking for 30, and got 30 three years in a row. My advice was don't do it too much, because people are going to expect that every year."
Brodeur saw great things coming from Parise.
"It's nice to watch. I knew he was good, and I kept on telling guys around the League. He's so quick, and has such a good work ethic, and he's everywhere on the ice. It's unbelievable. He deserves everything that he's getting now."
Luckily for Brodeur, he doesn't have to worry about stopping Parise outside of practice.
"Yeah, that's why we have to sign him to a long deal," Brodeur joked.
Gionta also hopes Parise stays hot on the scoresheet.
"It's special, he's having a great season," Gionta said. "He's got a good chance at 50, and it'd be nice to see it happen. I hope he does it, I hope he gets 50. He's a great kid, and he works extremely hard for everything he gets."
|Three star selections