Final

Series (Game 4 of 4)

New Jersey leads 3-0

Game 1: Wednesday, November 12th
Devils2Final
OT
Sabres2
Game 2: Wednesday, November 19th
Sabres1Final
Devils4
Game 3: Friday, December 19th
Devils5Final
Sabres2
Game 4: Wednesday, February 25th
Sabres2Final
Devils8

Sabres 2

(28-28-1, 63 pts)

Devils 8

(33-17-1, 78 pts)

7:30 PM ET, February 25, 2004

IZOD Center, East Rutherford, New Jersey

1 2 3 T
BUF 2 0 02
NJ 3 2 38

P. Elias (Devils - C): Goals: 2, Assists: 3

B. Gionta (Devils - RW): Goals: 2, Assists: 1

J. Pandolfo (Devils - LW): Goals: 2, Assists: 0

Ninth straight 30-win season for goalie

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- After playing in hundreds of tight games, Martin Brodeur became the first NHL goaltender to win 30 games in nine straight seasons in a most unexpected way -- a laugher.

"It's a pretty good accomplishment," Brodeur said after the New Jersey Devils cruised to an 8-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night. "I'm pretty excited about it.

"Usually I don't care about what's going on, but this one is something nice. A lot of things go into it. Durability and the success of my career really shows in this record."

Brodeur (30-17-10) had to make only 20 saves in moving ahead of recently retired Patrick Roy for consecutive 30-win seasons.

"That's amazing," Devils forward Brian Gionta said of the streak by the goaltender who has led New Jersey to three Stanley Cups since 1995. "He is the best goalie in the league, and year after year he shows it. It's because of his work ethic. He never wants to get beat, be it practice, pregame skate, warmups or in the game."

The goal-scoring binge by the usually defensive-minded Devils was their biggest output since October 2000.

Gionta, Patrik Elias and Jay Pandolfo scored twice apiece and Brian Rafalski and Jeff Friesen also scored as the Devils won their third straight and moved within four points of first-place Philadelphia in the Atlantic Division. New Jersey has played two fewer games.

The eight goals were the Devils' most since beating Montreal 8-4 on Oct. 6, 2000. Their previous high this season was seven against the Rangers -- just this past Saturday.

Elias added three assists. In the last three games, he has a team-record six goals and five assists for 11 points.

Scott Gomez, who centers for Elias and Gionta, had three assists. The line finished with four goals and seven assists.

Maxim Afinogenov scored a goal and set up another by Derek Roy for the Sabres, who lost their second straight after getting back into the playoff race with a 9-1-1 run.

"I thought we were poor everywhere," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "We were poor defensively. Our goaltending wasn't up to par. When you have only one line that was in on the scoring, then you don't win."

Buffalo is six points behind the New York Islanders for the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. The Sabres have played one more game than New York.

After Elias and Derek Roy exchanged goals 33 seconds apart in the first period, Gionta gave the Devils the lead for good, putting his own rebound past Mika Noronen, who gave up six goals on 26 shots.

Pandolfo stretched the lead to 3-1 less than two minutes later, converting short-handed on a nice feed from John Madden. Afinogenov scored on a power play with less than a minute to go in the period.

Pandolfo and Madden combined again late in the second period to push the lead to 4-2, and that broke the Sabres. Rafalski added a goal with less than a second left in the period, and New Jersey got three more in the third.

Game notes


Sabres RW Ales Kotalik was lost in the first period after being checked shoulder-first into the boards. ... Devils coach Pat Burns is one game shy of becoming the 11th NHL coach to reach 1,000 games. ... Rafalski got his 200th NHL point with an assist on Elias' first goal. ... Devils F Jamie Langenbrunner got a game misconduct for instigating a fight in a third period that had three fights.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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