Martin Brodeur has now played in more games than any goaltender in NHL history.
Martin Brodeur was taken out in the crease, but couldn't be taken off his game.
Brodeur, who set a new NHL record on Friday with his 1,030th career appearance, was run into by Jonathan Cheechoo in the Devils' 4-2 win over the visiting Ottawa Senators. Temporarily shaken, he stayed in the game and finished with 27 saves for his League-leading 22nd victory.
After Jamie Langenbrunner opened the scoring the first period, the Devils and Senators traded goals twice, including Brian Rolston's 12th of the year. Jay Pandolfo broke a 2-2 tie late in the second, and Bryce Salvador added an insurance marker in the third to seal it.
Jersey's Team finished 4-1 on their homestand to move back into a first-place tie in points with Pittsburgh atop the Atlantic Division. The Devils (24-8-1) outscored opponents, 14-6, in the four victories.
"We came out to play and to win, which I really enjoyed, especially with our last game (Wednesday's 2-1 win)," head coach Jacques Lemaire said. "We weren't satisfied and even the players weren't satisfied. They came back, put it together and played well."
Brodeur's collision with Cheechoo occurred 5:17 into the second period, when the Ottawa winger crashed the net for a Jarkko Ruutu rebound. He made contact with Brodeur's head and neck, and the netminder remained on his hands and knees for a time until a Devils trainer arrived.
"I went to grab my rebound and I put my head forward and the guy was skating this way and kind of hit the top of my head and just jammed my neck a bit," Brodeur said.
Brodeur was stunned at first. He missed 50 games last season with an elbow injury.
"I didn't want to move," he said. "When you hit your neck like that, with everything going back, I wasn't sure if I was really hurt or not. I just didn't want to move. I took my time, which is what I usually do if something happens to me. You don't want hurt it too much by trying to move if you're not sure."
The Devils notched their third win in a row, and seventh in the last eight games.
To do it, they killed off 1:22 of an Ottawa 5-on-3 with less than five minutes to go. Dean McAmmond was already in the box for hooking when Langenbrunner was given minors for high-sticking and roughing.
Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson received a roughing minor in the ensuing scrum, and the Devils were down two men.
Lemaire felt that turned the game for good. By then, his club already held a 4-2 lead.
"I thought they could have come back at that time," Lemaire said. "You look at the players that were on the ice for Ottawa at that time, they were all good scorers. They could've gotten at least a goal to get close to getting back in the game or tied it. But our guys did a great job and let's not forget Marty that had at least two great scoring chances and made two great saves on it."
Brodeur stopped three shots on the 5-on-3, including a tip by Milan Michalek and a blast by Alex Kovalev.
The Devils led 1-0 after 20 minutes courtesy of Langenbrunner's eighth of the season, and second on the power play.
The captain carried the puck across two zones to gain the Ottawa blue line, and found a streaking Andy Greene down the left side. Langenbrunner continued to the net, where he tapped Greene's pass through Brian Elliott at 11:53. Elliott finished with 18 stops.
"It was a great pass by Greene," Langenbrunner said. "Something we saw on the tape that we could take advantage of on them was going wide. Great play by Greenie. I just went to the net and he basically hit my stick with it."
Brodeur's secondary assist on Langenbrunner's goal was his second of the season, and second in the last three games.
Ottawa struck 39 seconds into the middle frame to even the score. Alexandre Picard's floater from the left point rang off the crossbar to tie the game at 1-1.
Devils celebrate Rolston's 12th of the season.
Just 1:14 later, Rolston answered with his second goal in four contests to put the Devils back on top. Patrik Elias won an offensive zone draw, and Rolston got the puck back from Mark Fraser to drive a shot past Elliott from the top of the right circle at 1:53.
Ottawa tied it for a second time less than a minute after Cheechoo's contact with Brodeur. Ruutu gathered a long pass from Chris Kelly at the Devils' blueline and evaded Johnny Oduya's stick check to net his sixth of the year at 6:06.
Each team misfired during a 4-on-4 with just under five minutes left in the second. Zach Parise helped break up a breakaway by Erik Karlsson, then lofted a long pass to spring Travis Zajac on a breakaway that Zajac fired over the top of the net.
"It was a fun game to be a part of, that's for sure," Brodeur said. "Tight game, pretty wide open with breakaways. Last time we saw a breakaway on one side and a breakaway in this building – it's been a while anyway. It was an exciting game and it was fun to play."
Pandolfo's second of the season restored the Devils' lead heading into the third. Rob Niedermayer carried the puck deep down the right side and flipped a pass in front where Pandolfo buried it at 18:22. It was Pandolfo's first goal in seven games since returning from a shoulder injury.
"It was nice to get a goal in a win," Pandolfo said. "Any time you win it's a lot nicer."
In the third, Salvador blasted a 67-footer that caromed off Elliott and up into the air. Elliott lost sight of the puck, and it bounced down, off his back and into the net at 9:52. Just like that, Salvador had his first goal in 59 games.
"It's a goal-scorer's goal," Salvador joked. "Top corner, that's what I'll tell my kids."
Elias had an assist to extend his points streak to six games (4g-3a-7pts). … Rolston's goal gives him points in four straight games (2g-3a-5pts).
• Pandolfo had positive words for Brodeur, who surpassed Patrick Roy's record for games played by a goaltender.
"That's impressive," he said. "He must be old. To play that many games as a goalie is impressive, but Marty keeps himself in great shape. He's such a competitor, it's not surprising. The records just keep falling with him. It's amazing."
Lemaire thought his goaltender was in trouble after the Cheechoo collision.
"At the start I thought it was bad," Lemaire said. "Maybe 30 seconds after, he started to get up and put his mask on, I was happy. That's one thing that you don't want. I think he's going well, he's playing well. You don't want an injury especially on your top goalie."
The coach said he has not decided on who will start Saturday in Atlanta.
Parise's backcheck on Karlsson's breakaway pressured him into losing a handle on the puck.
• After splitting up Parise and Zajac in Thursday's practice, Lemaire reunited the duo on Friday.
Parise, the Devils' leading scorer, has gone nine games without a goal.
"I heard some comments of Zach and it made me go back to play him with Travis," Lemaire said. "He was saying that sometimes it's good to play with other guys and when you come back, you work hard. If it happens, it happens, but if you come back with the player you want to play with, you'll really work hard so things jell together. So I said I was going to start (them together), and I was pleased with the way they were."
Parise and Zajac skated together with Vladimir Zharkov at right wing. The other lines to start the game were Rolston - Elias - Langenbrunner; Pandolfo - Niedermayer - Bergfors; Pelley - McAmmond - Pikkarainen.
Lemaire was rooting for Zajac to score on his breakaway in the second period. The centerman has one goal in his last eight games.
"I know if he did, his confidence would rise and his game would rise, too," he said.
• On his goal, Salvador said he decided to put the puck on goal instead of rimming it around the boards.
"It was a change, and usually I rim it," he said. "I put it on net, and you see what happens."
Salvador saw the puck hit Elliott, but had already turned around by the time it went into the net.
"When (the puck) got in, he was right in front of the door (to the bench) then raised his hand because everyone was cheering," Lemaire said. "He didn't know what happened, but he knew he scored."
• When he was whistled for the two minors in the third, Langenbrunner had hoped to even up the penalties and take a Senator off the ice with him.
"I knew I had the first one, I saw his arm go up," the captain said. "(Alfredsson) took a swing at me, but obviously the high-stick is going to cost you. I tried to dump the puck out, and (Karlsson) made a good play by getting his foot back and knocking it down. But good job by the PK bailing me out."
• Devils open a three-game road swing Saturday night in Atlanta. They visit Pittsburgh on Monday, then close out the trip in Washington next Saturday. Jersey's Team returns home to host the Thrashers on Monday, Dec. 28.
"It'll be good to get back on the road," Pandolfo said. "A couple games, then you get a little break for Christmas. I don't think we've played our best hockey yet here at home and we still won four games (on the homestand). Maybe we can get on the road here and play two 60-minute games as a team and go into the (Christmas) break pretty happy."
1 - 0 NJD
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 NJD
2 - 2 Tie
3 - 2 NJD
4 - 2 NJD