- E.J. Hradek, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
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There isn't much Devils superstar goalie Martin Brodeur hasn't accomplished during his brilliant career. And the 36-year-old stopper continues to amaze with his terrific play. Brodeur's pursuit of the all-time regular-season wins record and Terry Sawchuk's all-time regular-season shutout mark has inspired the good folks at ESPN.com to ask me to compile a top-10 list of his career moments.
The only thing that's really tough about that is limiting the list to just 10. In fact, I ended up with 11. I'll give you my top 10, plus one honorable mention.
Honorable mention (12/23/96): In a brilliant goaltending duel, Brodeur and Sabres star Dominik Hasek each turned back 37 shots in a thrilling scoreless tie between the clubs. The two future Hall of Famers commemorated their evening of work by having the game puck cut in half. If you like great goaltending, this 1996 gem was a holiday treat.
10. Win No. 1 (3/26/92): Some six weeks shy of his 20th birthday, Brodeur recorded his first NHL victory -- a 4-2 decision over the Boston Bruins. On double emergency recall from his QMJHL team (St. Hyacinthe), Brodeur made 24 saves in the victory over Bruins veteran Andy Moog.
9. 2003 Eastern Conference finals, Game 7 (5/23/03): Brodeur draws on his big-game experience in the decisive battle of the series. The Devils blew a 3-1 series lead and seemed on the verge of falling to the suddenly energized Ottawa Senators. To make matters worse, veteran center Joe Nieuwendyk managed just three shifts due to injury. With a short bench, Brodeur provided sure goaltending, stopping 24 of 26 shots in a gritty 3-2 road win.
8. 2000 Eastern Conference finals, Game 7 (5/26/00): The Devils overcame a 3-1 series deficit against the Flyers, rallying to capture the series and earn a berth in the Stanley Cup finals. Brodeur was razor-sharp in the decisive game, stopping 26 of 27 shots in a tight 2-1 game that was best remembered for the crushing hit New Jersey defenseman Scott Stevens delivered to Philadelphia star pivot Eric Lindros. The Devils netminder surrendered just three goals in the final three games of the series.
7. Sweeping Manhattan (4/29/06): Brodeur and his teammates were simply giddy after sweeping the rival New York Rangers. In their three previous playoff series meetings (1992, 1994 and 1997), the Rangers had eliminated the Devils. Breaking out the brooms at Madison Square Garden was particularly gratifying for the Devils, who, despite three championships, skate in the shadow of the Original Six franchise in the tri-state area.
6. He shoots, he scores! (4/17/97): In Game 1 of the 1997 Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Montreal Canadiens, Brodeur thrilled the home crowd by firing a puck the length of the ice into an empty net for the first goal of his career. A terrific puck-handler, Brodeur seemed as if he could barely contain his joy after lighting the lamp at the other end of the rink. It was one of just two playoff goals scored by a goaltender (Ron Hextall scored the other). On Feb. 15, 2000, Brodeur was credited with a regular-season goal against the Flyers. In that case, he was the last Devil to touch the puck before a Flyers player accidently put the biscuit in his own basket.
5. The century mark (3/1/09): In just his third game back from the elbow surgery that sidelined him for nearly four months, Brodeur turned aside 27 shots en route a 3-0 win over the Flyers for his 100th career regular-season shutout. Brodeur needs just three more shutouts to tie the legendary Terry Sawchuk for the league's all-time mark.
4. 2003 Stanley Cup finals, Game 7 (6/9/03): Brodeur was brilliant during the club's third championship run. Against the Ducks, he set a Cup finals series record with three shutouts. Brodeur turned back all 24 Anaheim shots in the decisive Game 7 victory. Afterward, at the podium, Brodeur celebrated with a bottle of champagne, a cigar and a good-luck charm, a little rubber duck.
3. 2000 Stanley Cup finals, Game 6 (6/10/00): After a 7-3 Devils win in Game 1 of the Cup finals against the defending champion Stars, the two clubs settled into a low-scoring series that featured a pair of multiple-overtime games. Brodeur allowed just four goals in the final four games of the series and stood strong in the decisive Game 6, turning back 30 of 31 shots en route to clinching the club's second Cup.
2. Team Canada Olympic gold-medal win (2/24/02): Brodeur entered the 2002 Salt Lake Games behind Curtis Joseph on Canada's depth chart. But after Joseph struggled, Brodeur came off the bench to lead his countrymen to their first Olympic men's ice hockey gold medal since 1952. With Canada holding a 3-2 lead in the third period of the gold-medal game against the United States, the Quebec-born stopper came up with a timely toe save on a shot off the stick of Brett Hull. The Canadian team responded by adding two goals for the 5-2 tournament-clinching win.
1. 1995 Stanley Cup finals, Game 4 (6/24/95): At the tender age of 23, Brodeur backstopped the Devils to the franchise's first Stanley Cup. He allowed just seven goals during a four-game sweep of the Red Wings and was particularly strong in a 2-1 Game 1 win in Detroit. The victory was even sweeter because of the club's bitter playoff ouster -- at the hands of the rival Rangers -- just a year earlier.
13dScott Burnside and Craig Custance