7:00 PM ET, March 17, 2009
Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey
7:00 PM ET, March 17, 2009
Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey
NEWARK, N.J. -- With the final seconds ticking off the clock, Martin Brodeur saw the shot leave the stick of Chicago Blackhawks forward Troy Brouwer, kicked out his right pad and watched the puck head to the corner.
Martin Brodeur's elbow injury might have postponed his chase toward history, but he finally attained goaltending immortality with a 3-2 victory over the Blackhawks on Tuesday. Now, only Terry Sawchuck's shutout mark remains.
NHL Goalie Victories
1. Martin Brodeur 553
2. Patrick Roy 551
3. Ed Belfour 484
4. Curtis Joseph 451
5. Terry Sawchuk 447
NHL Goaltender Shutouts
1. Terry Sawchuk 103
2. Martin Brodeur 101
3. George Hainsworth 94
4. Glenn Hall 84
5. Jacques Plante 82
-- ESPN.com research
Within seconds, the buzzer sounded and Brodeur stood alone as the NHL's winningest goaltender with 552 career victories. Childhood idol and Hall of Famer Patrick Roy was now behind him.
"It was an exciting night," Brodeur said after making 30 saves in the New Jersey Devils' 3-2 win over the Blackhawks on Tuesday night. "I'm happy that it's done and over with. It's been chaotic, the last few days. It was an awesome night. It was a great reception from the fans."
The end was a fitting tribute for the 36-year-old Brodeur. He leapt into the air and pumped the right hand that held his stick in exclamation as a sellout crowd once again roared "Mart-tee! Mart-tee!"
He was immediately surrounded by teammates in a celebration that seemed akin to winning the Stanley Cup.
Instead of hoisting the trophy, Brodeur took out a pair of scissors and cut the net.
"It's definitely harder than I thought," Brodeur quipped. "These basketball players, it's only a little net. This was a big net. I had help from a couple of my teammates."
While other Devils finished the job of cutting down the net, Brodeur took a victory lap around the ice, high-fiving his coaches as he passed the bench.
The victory came in Brodeur's 987th game of a 15-year career played entirely with the Devils.
During that tenure, the likable Brodeur has led the Devils to three Stanley Cup titles and won the Vezina Trophy four times as the league's top goalie.
Now he holds the wins record, and another could soon fall. He is within four shutouts of passing Terry Sawchuk (103) for the NHL record, and he has a chance to push his win total well beyond 600.
"If this continues being fun, I'll stick around for a long time," Brodeur said.
As he spoke, a deafening roar of "Mart-tee! Mart-tee!" filled the arena.
• The Devils are 8-0-3 against the Blackhawks since 1998.
• New Jersey forward Zach Parise has 18 goals and 19 assists in his last 29 games.
• Chicago fell to 19-14-3 on the road this season.
-- ESPN research
"Guys were commenting that is was like a Stanley Cup atmosphere there, you know the intensity, the excitement, the buzz in the arena," veteran Devils forward Brendan Shanahan said. "You felt it from the drop of the puck. You felt it in warmup."
Brodeur tied Roy's mark in an emotional setting, his hometown of Montreal on Saturday night with Roy in attendance.
"I thought it was pretty cool in Montreal, but this topped it," Brodeur said.
With family in the crowd in Newark, Brodeur took the ice in front of a full house that cheered him from the warmup to the final buzzer, mostly with the echoing chant of "Mart-tee! Mart-tee! Mart-tee!"
Those cheers turned to "Thank you, Marty!" as the clock ticked down and "Marty's better!" once the record was his.
"This is one of those really special moments that doesn't come along often," said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who was in attendance. "Maybe once in a lifetime, maybe once in two lifetimes.
"We witnessed some history here tonight, and the fans recognized that. This building was on edge, emotionally excited throughout," Bettman said.
Brodeur wasn't the only record-setter on the night for New Jersey. Patrik Elias became the Devils' career leading scorer when he recorded his 702nd point with a perfect pass to set up a short-handed goal by Brian Gionta late in the second period for a 3-0 lead.
The Devils took the pressure off Brodeur early with two goals against Nikolai Khabibulin in the opening 6:01 in extending their record for home wins to 10. Zach Parise set up both, finding Jamie Langenbrunner in the slot 38 seconds after the opening faceoff and then threading a pass through the crease to Travis Zajac at 6:01.
After that it was up to Brodeur to protect the lead, and he looked extraordinarily focused in winning for the eighth time in nine games since returning from elbow surgery late in February.
Blackhawks defenseman Cam Barker got the first Chicago goal, firing a point shot past a totally screened Brodeur on a power play late in the second period. Dustin Byfuglien made it 3-2 with 2:03 left in the game.
"With 10 minutes left, I thought, 'All right, this is finally going to happen,'" Brodeur said. "I was a clockwatcher, a little bit. When two minutes came and they scored, I said, 'I've got two more minutes to kill.' It made it tough in the last few minutes, but we got it done."
The loss was a season-high third straight and fifth in six for Chicago.
And Brodeur was a big part of that.
"He is a special goalie," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "You look at the consistency, the volumes of games he can play and his consistency in the net. They changed the rules because of the way he handled the puck. He's amazing. Not many goalies have that style and he keeps getting better and better and better. At this stage of his career, he looks as good as ever."
Parise and Langenbrunner worked a great give-and-go in the opening minute to put New Jersey ahead. Langenbrunner made a pass from the left boards to Parise streaking down the right side, and Parise then found Langenbrunner alone in front for his 24th goal.
Stationed at the left side of the net, Zajac got a slam-dunk for his 20th goal when Zajac found him at 6:01 as a Blackhawks penalty ended.
Elias led a two-on-one with Gionta late in the second period and then pumped his fist after the puck went into the net, allowing Elias to break assistant coach John MacLean's record for points with the Devils.
|Arena: Prudential Center
Location: Newark, New Jersey
|Referees: Dan O'Halloran, Tim Peel|
Linesmen: Michel Cormier, Jean Morin
|Attendance: 17,625 (100.0% full)|
|1||Power Play Goals||0|
|4||Power Play Opportunities||3|
|32||Shots on Goal||30|
|0:38||Jamie Langenbrunner (24)
Assist: Zach Parise
|6:01||Travis Zajac (20)
Assists: Zach Parise, Paul Martin
|16:56||Brian Gionta (16)
Assists: Patrik Elias, Mike Mottau
|17:28||Cam Barker (5)
Assists: Brian Campbell, Patrick Kane
|17:57||Dustin Byfuglien (12)
Assist: Matt Walker