NEWARK , N.J. -- Martin Brodeur reached another milestone on Wednesday night, tying Patrick Roy's record for most regular-season games played by a goaltender. Patrik Elias made sure the NHL's winningest goaltender could enjoy it.
Brodeur, who finished with 17 saves, tied Roy's record when he stepped on the ice for his 1,029th game -- matching Roy, who retired after the 2002-03 season.
"He keeps us in, even when we don't have those great games," Elias said of Brodeur. "He gives us an opportunity to win."
The Devils did just that after Brian Rolston's initial shot from between the circles was stopped by Canadiens goalie Carey Price. Elias raced past everyone, snagged the rebound and backhanded it just inside the right post. Elias has four goals in his last four games and 16 points in 18 games since returning from groin surgery on Nov. 6.
He admits feeling exceptionally good during the past week.
"The last four or five games, I've felt really good -- the leg is not hurting as much and I'm doing more off-ice stuff to get my endurance a little bit higher," he said. "I'm working out and riding a bike on my own to build up that stamina, endurance and speed and it seems to be working."
Price found that out the hard way.
"I know they go hard to the net and (Rolston's attempt) had some wood on it as the shot came towards me," Price said. "I tried to get to the corner but didn't get far enough and he was right there. Good teams get to the net to score goals, and that's what Elias did."
Elias, the game's first star, actually beat Tomas Plekanec on the play to put himself in position for game-winner.
"The defenseman and their backchecker kind of slowed down there and left me going," Elias said. "I'm screaming out of my lungs all the time when (Rolston) has the puck because he always sees it when its there, but I'm trying to encourage him to give a little more give-and-go's."
Rolston and Elias have discovered good chemistry while playing with rookie Vladimir Zharkov.
"We have good chemistry," Rolston said. "We're looking for each other all the time and we're just making plays and it's a lot of fun. He makes it really easy on me and, hopefully, I'm making it easy on him."
Brodeur figures to break the games-played record -- and get another shot at the NHL career shutout mark -- on Friday night against Ottawa unless coach Jacques Lemaire gives his future Hall of Famer the night off. Brodeur equaled Terry Sawchuk's mark of 103 career shutouts on Dec. 7 when he blanked the Buffalo Sabres 3-0. Brodeur has started New Jersey's last 11 games and played all but one period in the last 18."It's durability," Brodeur, a Montreal native, said of tying the games-played mark. "That's what playing a lot of games is -- it's being durable, it's being successful, because if you're not then the coach doesn't put you in there. I'm definitely happy it's passed. We'll get the next game and get it over with; try to get another one out of the way and just play hockey." There was little drama about shutout No. 104 on Wednesday. Despite giving the Devils four power-play opportunities in the opening period, the Canadiens made New Jersey pay for its lackadaisical effort when Travis Moen connected for a shorthanded goal 12:23 into the game. Jamie Langenbrunner lost the puck at the left point, Moen skated into it and raced in on a 2-on-1 break before feathering a backhander that beat Brodeur through the five-hole to end any record-setting shutout bid.
Rookie Ilkka Pikkarainen pulled the Devils even at 16:25 of the second when his high shot from the top of the right circle deflected off the outstretched glove and skate of Price into the net. Pikkarainen's first NHL goal came after a save by Brodeur on Marc-Andre Bergeron at the other end.
"I'm really happy because it's been so many games now and it's good to have the first one," a jubilant Pikkarainen said. "I don't have to think about it anymore. I just tried to throw it on net because I saw Dean (McAmmond) and Pells (Rod Pelley) go in there, but I was happy the goalie tried to take it."
Up to that point, Price was proving to be a pretty formidable force -- stopping the first 14 shots he faced. Price, who was matched against his boyhood idol, Brodeur, finished the game with 25 saves -- but admitted his mishandled the shot.
"I reached above my head to try and glove it down but I batted it down right behind me," Price said. "I thought it was still up in the air, so I started backing up and I guess I kicked it in."
Entering the third, Price had a hunch one more goal would determine the outcome.
"Jersey is a team that really shuts down the other team's offense and they really don't give up much," he said. "They've been doing that for the last two decades and it's kind of how we figured it would be."
The third period was basically a chess match as both teams looked for a breakdown that would lead to the go-ahead goal until Elias made the play that put the Devils ahead to stay..
"The game definitely had a weird feeling," Price said. "The ice was pretty choppy. It seemed like the puck went out of play a lot and there was no real flow to the game. We just kept plugging away and it seemed like it was going to be a bounce that determined the game -- and that's what happened."
|SHG - Travis Moen (7) ASST: NONE|
1 - 0 MTL
|Ilkka Pikkarainen (1) ASST: Dean McAmmond (2), Rod Pelley (3)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Patrik Elias (7) ASST: Brian Rolston (9), Vladimir Zharkov (5)|
2 - 1 NJD
|Matt D'Agostini Too many men/ice - bench|
|Ryan O'Byrne Tripping against Travis Zajac|
|Hal Gill Holding against Vladimir Zharkov|
|Carey Price Delaying the game|
|Jaroslav Spacek Slashing against Brian Rolston|
|Rob Niedermayer Hooking against Ryan O'Byrne|