NEWARK , N.J. -- Goalie Martin Brodeur won't soon forget his record-setting 1,030th career game on Friday night.
Brodeur not only made history when he stepped on the ice -- passing Patrick Roy for the most regular-season appearances by a goaltender -- but he increased to his NHL-record victory total to 579 by stopping 27 shots to lead the New Jersey Devils to a 4-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators before 13,728 at Prudential Center.
Brodeur reached his record-breaking 1,030th game in two fewer seasons than it took Roy to set the mark before retiring after the 2002-03 season. That was the easy part of his night.
The Senators spent the rest of the evening doing all they could to get traffic in front of Brodeur. He had bodies in his face all night and appeared briefly dazed after taking a shin to the head by Jonathan Cheechoo just after the five-minute mark of the second period.
"They had a lot of guys bumping into me and getting close all night," Brodeur said. "They had a lot of screen shots, and I made a couple of saves without even knowing where the puck was so I got a little lucky on a few of them. When you get hit like that, you feel your neck going in and you don't want to move. You just want to wait and see where the pains are, but it wasn't that bad and I feel good now."
Cheechoo, whose team trailed 2-1 at the time, said he had no intention of hurting Brodeur.
"I was skating through and it was a shot with a rebound and I went for it," he said. "I think when he came down to cover it, my knee kind of ran into his head. The puck was right there, so I was actually trying to shoot the puck and he kind of lunged in front of me so it's kind of a tough play there. You never want to see anyone get hurt on that."
However, Cheechoo admitted the game plan included getting plenty of traffic in front of Brodeur.
"He's probably the best goalie to ever play, so you have to get in front of him to limit vision as much as you can," Cheechoo said. "He's got great instincts too, and even when he was screened he made saves that probably some goalies wouldn't of -- so you got to give it to him."
Ironically, for all the traffic they put in front of Brodeur, the Senators tied the game shortly after the Brodeur-Cheechoo collision when Jarkko Ruutu took Chris Kelly's outlet pass and zipped a wrist shot past Brodeur's right shoulder on a breakaway at 6:06.
It was the third of four goals scored during a wide-open second period.
"With the exception of getting hit there, it was a fun game to be a part of, there were breakaways at both ends and it was exciting," Brodeur said.
Jay Pandolfo snapped a 2-2 tie at 18:22 of the second with his second goal of the season to give the Devils the lead for good. Bryce Salvador then added some insurance with a fluke goal midway through the third on his first of the season -- a 75-foot slap shot that hit Brian Elliott's right skate, went high in the air and hit the goaltender's back before trickling into the net.
"I just went to the net and beat the guy wide and (Rob Niedermayer) slid a nice pass over to me," Pandolfo said of his decisive goal.
The victory was the third straight for the Devils and their seventh in eight games, including four of five on their just-concluded homestand. The Devils start a three-game road trip in Atlanta on Saturday and visit Pittsburgh and Washington before returning home on Dec. 28 for a meeting with the Thrashers.
"We had a nice homestand; I thought we could have been better in some areas, but overall we came out skating (on Friday) and came to play and to win," Devils coach Jacques Lemaire said.
After Salvador's goal, Brodeur and his defensive corps killed a 5-on-3 disadvantage for 1:21 late in the third despite good pressure from Ottawa, which finished 0-for-6 with the man advantage against a Devils team that ranked 15th on the penalty kill. Lemaire felt denying the Senators on their two-man advantage was the turning point.
"I thought they could have come back at that time because all the players on the ice for Ottawa were all good forwards," Lemaire said. "They could have gotten back into the game to tie it. Our guys did a great job -- and let's not forget Marty. He made at least two great saves on scoring chances they had."
Lemaire remained noncommittal in naming his starting goalie against the Thrashers on Saturday. Brodeur has started 12 straight games and appeared in 19 in a row -- he played the final two periods of a 5-3 loss to the Dallas Stars on Nov. 21.
Ottawa rookie defenseman Erik Karlsson, whose breakaway attempt in the third was pushed wide of the net, was facing Brodeur for the first time in his career.
"(Filip) Kuba had a good shot (on the 5-on-3 advantage), and I have no idea how he stopped that one," Karlsson said. "If you look at him, you can't understand how he could be so good. He doesn't look so big, but somehow he saves a lot of great shots. When you play against such a great goalie, you have to have traffic in front of the net and keep shooting pucks. We did a good job of that but didn't get the goals we wanted."
Jamie Langenbrunner gave New Jersey the lead at 11:53 of the first period when he connected for a power-play goal. Defenseman Andy Greene skated the puck down his left wing and low into the circle before sliding a pass in front to a charging Langenbrunner, who simply tapped home his eighth of the season past Elliott.
Alexandre Picard ended any hopes that Brodeur might get his record-breaking 104th shutout when his wrister from the point floated through a maze of bodies and sailed past Brodeur 39 seconds into the second period. New Jersey went back in front 1:14 later when Brian Rolston ripped a shot past Elliott from the top of the right circle.
"It was a pretty intense game and we wanted to do that and play with a little edge to our game," Langenbrunner said. "That was lacking against Montreal (on Wednesday)."
|PPG - Jamie Langenbrunner (8) ASST: Andy Greene (13), Martin Brodeur (2)|
1 - 0 NJD
|Alexandre Picard (4) ASST: Matt Carkner (4), Alex Kovalev (12)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Brian Rolston (12) ASST: Mark Fraser (2), Patrik Elias (10)|
2 - 1 NJD
|Jarkko Ruutu (6) ASST: Chris Kelly (11), Jonathan Cheechoo (5)|
2 - 2 Tie
|Jay Pandolfo (2) ASST: Rob Niedermayer (7), Colin White (6)|
3 - 2 NJD
|Bryce Salvador (1) ASST: Rod Pelley (4), Dean McAmmond (3)|
4 - 2 NJD
|Niclas Bergfors Tripping against Mike Fisher|
|Alexandre Picard Interference against Ilkka Pikkarainen|
|Mike Mottau Hooking against Mike Fisher|
|Jamie Langenbrunner Tripping against Matt Carkner|
|Jarkko Ruutu Hooking against Andy Greene|
|Rob Niedermayer Hi-sticking against Chris Kelly|
|Dean McAmmond Hooking against Alex Kovalev|
|Jamie Langenbrunner Hi-sticking against Erik Karlsson|
|Jamie Langenbrunner Roughing against Mike Fisher|
|Daniel Alfredsson Roughing against Jamie Langenbrunner|
|Matt Carkner Roughing against Zach Parise|