EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) _ 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.
``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, while 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 their most since beating Montreal 8-4 on Oct. 6, 2000. Their previous high this season was seven against the Rangers last 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 every where,'' 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 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.
|PPG - Patrik Elias (26) ASST: Brian Rafalski (25), Scott Gomez (35)|
1 - 0 NJD
|Derek Roy (3) ASST: Maxim Afinogenov (9), Taylor Pyatt (10)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Brian Gionta (16) ASST: Paul Martin (11), Patrik Elias (28)|
2 - 1 NJD
|SHG - Jay Pandolfo (10) ASST: John Madden (18), Scott Niedermayer (29)|
3 - 1 NJD
|PPG - Maxim Afinogenov (14) ASST: Alexei Zhitnik (24), Derek Roy (8)|
3 - 2 NJD
|Jay Pandolfo (11) ASST: John Madden (19), Turner Stevenson (9)|
4 - 2 NJD
|Brian Rafalski (5) ASST: Scott Gomez (36), Patrik Elias (29)|
5 - 2 NJD
|Brian Gionta (17) ASST: Scott Gomez (37), Patrik Elias (30)|
6 - 2 NJD
|Jeff Friesen (14) ASST: NONE|
7 - 2 NJD
|PPG - Patrik Elias (27) ASST: Scott Niedermayer (30), Brian Gionta (7)|
8 - 2 NJD
|Power Play %||13.4%||19.3%|
|% on Road||12.2%||21.6%|
|% at Home||14.5%||17.3%|
|Daniel Briere Slashing against John Madden|
|David Hale Tripping against Adam Mair|
|Daniel Briere Hi-sticking against Turner Stevenson|
|David Hale Hi-sticking against Derek Roy|
|Taylor Pyatt Hooking against Brian Gionta|
|Alexei Zhitnik Hi-sticking against Sergei Brylin|
|Adam Mair Fighting (maj) against David Hale|
|David Hale Fighting (maj) against Adam Mair|
|Sean Brown Fighting (maj) against Eric Boulton|
|Eric Boulton Fighting (maj) against Sean Brown|
|Jochen Hecht Roughing|
|Alexei Zhitnik Cross checking against Jamie Langenbrunner|
|Alexei Zhitnik Fighting (maj) against Jamie Langenbrunner|
|Jamie Langenbrunner Instigator against Alexei Zhitnik|
|Jamie Langenbrunner Fighting (maj) against Alexei Zhitnik|
|Jamie Langenbrunner Misconduct (10 min)|
|Brian Campbell Roughing against Brian Gionta|
|Eric Boulton Unsportsmanlike conduct|