NEWARK, N.J. -- Did New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur really want to overshadow the milestone-setting performance by the Devils' all-time leader scorer?
And while Brodeur couldn't reach the celebratory circle on Saturday by notching his record-setting 104th career shutout, Devils forward Patrik Elias did on a pair of goals that led the Devils to a 4-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers before 15,724 at Prudential Center. Devils rookie Niclas Bergfors also connected twice to share the spotlight with the 13th-season veteran.
When Elias scored his first of the game and fifth of the season with 4:13 left in the first period, he not only gave his team a commanding 3-0 cushion, but became only the second player in franchise history to register 300 career goals.
"It's obviously a nice little mark and a nice little achievement," Elias said. "To do it for this organization is even more special."
Elias has played 839 career games spanning 12-plus seasons, all with the Devils. John MacLean is the all-time goal-scoring leader for New Jersey with 347 goals in 934 games spanning 14-plus seasons with the Devils. Elias' is also the 173rd player in League history to reach the 300-goal plateau.
Even though Brodeur fell 24:57 short of notching that elusive shutout that would put him one ahead of Hall of Famer Terry Sawchuk (103 shutouts), he did record a first-period assist, had a fabulous poke check to deny Jeff Carter on a shorthanded breakaway in the second and finished with 22 saves to garner his 20th victory of the season and the 577th of his career.
"Somebody said that I should have waited until Marty got that shutout," Elias said. "But it would have been nice to share it with him."
Philadelphia's Claude Giroux broke Brodeur's shutout bid at 15:03 of the second on a power-play goal that pulled the Flyers within 3-1. Giroux's sixth goal, a wrist shot from low in the right circle, beat Brodeur on the long side.
"It was just a bad angle shot that I wish I could get back," Brodeur said. "I stand up on these shots and sometimes it just gets through and that did. It hit the inside of my blocker. I was upset because, on those bad-angle shots, you'd like to make those stops. I wasn't upset over losing the shutout at that point."
Brodeur's marvelous poke-check on Carter, who has now failed to score in 10 of his last 12 games, was a thing of beauty late in the second at a time when the Flyers were beginning to press the issue after pulling to within 3-1.
"Carter is a good player; he's a big dude with a hard shot so I was ready for him," Brodeur said. "I respected him so much there on that break that I went out far on him, was able to keep my ground and just poke check him when he ran out room."
Elias would answer Giroux's tally with just 33.1 seconds left in the second when he collected a pass from Brian Rolston and drove a shot past Boucher (24 saves) from the right hash. Rolston finished the game with two assists.
Unlike the jovial Devils' locker room during post-game interviews, the Flyers were anything but excited. In fact, defenseman Chris Pronger was downright ornery.
"There's an old saying, 'You're never as bad as you think you are and never as good as you think you are,'" said Pronger. "I don't think we're that bad, but we're getting there if we don't start looking in the mirror and coming with an attitude each and every day to the rink. Whether it's game day or not, you have to come with the attitude you want to work, prepare properly and execute in practice from pregame skate and then the game."
The Devils opened a 3-0 lead on a pair of goals by Bergfors and Elias' 300th. Bergfors connected 2:33 into the first when he took an outlet from Rolston, split Flyers defensemen Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timonen and fired a low liner from the left circle that beat goalie Brian Boucher on the long side.
"We know they're a team with energy so I guess everyone was disappointed from (Friday) night (in a 4-2 loss to the Florida Panthers) and wanted to show that we can play with better effort," Bergfors said.
He'd score another power-play goal, his seventh with the man advantage this season, at 12:31 to extend the lead to 2-0. The second two-goal game of the season for the first-year Swede prompted Flyers forward Scott Hartnell to break his stick over the goalpost.
"We're making the same mistakes and I wish I could put my finger on why we're making them," Flyers captain Mike Richards said. "It's one thing if their effort mistakes, but they're mistakes that shouldn't be happening. So it's something that has to be stopped soon because it's put us in a hole right away."
New Jersey, which has won seven of their last nine games, improved to 22-8-1.
They'll play their next two games at home -- Montreal on Wednesday and Ottawa on Friday -- before traveling to Atlanta on Dec. 19. So it's possible Brodeur could set the shutout record and equal the mark for games played in a career in four days. Brodeur has played in 1,028 regular-season contests, one less than Patrick Roy.
The Flyers, who have lost 10 of their last 12 games, are now 1-4-0 since Peter Laviolette took over for John Stevens on Dec. 4.
"If you start pointing fingers, there's three pointing back at you," Pronger said. "We have to help one another and get this team back to where we need to be. Wining is the name of the game here. Winning is fun and everything else (stinks)."
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