Devils top Chicago, Brodeur gets win No. 552
Brodeur waves to the crowd after posting his 552nd win.
The chants of "Marty's better" started before the drop of the puck and continued all game long.
By night's end, Martin Brodeur
was officially the best.
He delivered 30 saves Tuesday to beat visiting Chicago, 3-2, and become the winningest goaltender in National Hockey League history with his 552nd career victory.
The Devils left little doubt in this one. They rode the energy of a sold-out Prudential Center to a 2-0 lead six minutes in. Zach Parise
assisted on both goals, setting up Jamie Langenbrunner
38 seconds into the contest, before finding Travis Zajac
Langenbrunner set a new career high with his 24th, while Zajac reached the 20-goal plateau for the first time.
became the all-time leading scorer in Devils history with his assist on Brian Gionta's shorthanded goal in the second period.
As far as memorable games go, Tuesday's was simply as good as it gets.
"It was an exciting night," Brodeur said. "I'm definitely happy that it's done and over with. It's been kind of chaotic for me a little bit the last few days, but it was an awesome night with great reception from the fans. I thought it was pretty cool (tying Roy) in Montreal, but this topped it."
With the Blackhawks looking to tie it up late, Brodeur stopped Troy Brouwer with six seconds left. After the final horn had sounded, Brodeur was saluted on the ice and grabbed a pair of scissors to begin cutting the net out of the goal – until his teammates intervened.
"Jamie came over," Brodeur said. "He said, 'We'll cut it down. Go take a lap, the fans deserve it.' And I went over there. I've done it with the Stanley Cup on top of my head as a team thing, but that was really cool as a personal thing. I was trying to look at them in the stands while I was skating. It was definitely a great moment for me."
Elias was recognized during the game for his 702nd point, which moved him ahead of assistant coach John MacLean for the Devils' new franchise record.
"I'm proud, no question about it," Elias said. "It's a credit to my parents and all my coaches along the way, getting a chance here and just developing into the player that I am. I made a decision a couple years ago; I just wanted to stay here and win another championship. Hopefully we can do that again."
Elias was happy to have reached a new record together with Brodeur, and said Tuesday's crowd was the loudest he's heard yet at the Rock.
"It was very exciting," Elias said. "They really got into with everything that's been happening. We have a great team and I think we can accomplish a lot of good things here. Hopefully the crowd can stay behind us throughout the rest of the season and the playoffs."
Named the game's Second Star, Elias skated back out onto the ice with a green St. Patrick's Day derby.
"Well it is my day," he said.
Brodeur's moment wasn't lost on Brent Sutter. Asked to put 552 in perspective, the Devils' head coach got right to the point.
"A record like this speaks for itself," Sutter said. "He's got the most wins of all time by any goaltender that's ever played the game, so it speaks for itself. I have played on some very, very good hockey teams that have won Stanley Cups, and just some really good teams. As far as goaltending is concerned, being around Marty for the last year and three-quarters, you can understand why he's accomplished what he's accomplished."
Said Parise, New Jersey's leading scorer this season: "The best thing about it is that he's got a lot of years in him, too. There's going to be a lot more to come."
The Devils (46-20-3) extended their home winning streak to a franchise-high 10 in a row and took an 11-point stranglehold on the Atlantic Division's top spot with just 13 games remaining.
New Jersey has taken four straight and eight of its last nine.
"It's a lot of fun," Langenbrunner said. "It's been an emotional couple of games for this team, something that we're all going to look back on quite fondly. It's been a good ride so far. Now we've got this past us, and we start focusing on moving forward."
The quest for the record now complete, Brodeur looked toward a strong finish to his 15th season.
"When I heard the buzzer, I was like, 'Wow, it's over now. This is good.' I didn't want this chase to be a disturbance to the team because we played so well all year and now we're coming into a last stretch here to get ourselves into the playoffs. I didn't want to drag it too long. Now it will be old news by the time the playoffs start and that's the way I wanted it to happen."
When Brodeur went down in November with an elbow injury, he did so needing eight wins to overtake the wins record of his boyhood hero, Patrick Roy.
He returned on Feb. 26 and passed Roy in only nine games.
"I was so concerned about getting back and getting myself ready to play again," Brodeur said. "It was still unknown how well I was going to be able to come back. Players play for four months, and I didn't. This is a high-tempo game.
"It was new territory for me to come back in the middle of the season. I never got hurt in my career, so it was tough for me and I wasn't concentrating on the record. Really, even when I started, I think after I won my first four games, I said 'That's going to happen quicker than I thought.' That's probably when I started thinking about it more, but not when I came back."
The next step for Brodeur?
"Right now, it's to relax and enjoy myself a little bit," he said. "Not that I didn't take in everything that's been happening to me, but we have a little over 10 games to go for the playoffs and it's going to be a run at the Stanley Cup, that's the bottom line."
Elias had a goal waved off in the third period shortly after a Devils power play when it was ruled that the whistle had blown before the puck crossed the line... Colin White
left the game with a lower body injury... NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman praised Brodeur in a released statement: "Martin Brodeur
is the gold standard of goaltending – the model of character, consistency and commitment to the craft. A champion. A winner above all." ... The Devils visit Carolina Wednesday and return to Newark Friday to face Minnesota.
|Three star selections