One of the many reasons why New Jersey Devils
goalie Martin Brodeur
is going to the Hall of Fame is his consistency.
Brodeur reached 40 victories wins in a season for the seventh time on Saturday by making 24 saves in New Jersey’s 4-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center. The seven 40-win seasons are a League record, which he already owned. Brodeur, who won 48 games last season, is only 18 shy of topping Patrick Roy's career record of 551 wins, which came with the Montreal Canadiens and the Avalanche.
''I build my career and the way I play around being consistent,'' Brodeur said. ''I play a lot of games, my teammates expect me to win 40 games. They (goals) are nice to accomplish, but your team has got to be a big part of it also.''
The win gives the Devils 90 points, extending their lead in the Atlantic Division to three points over the idle Pittsburgh Penguins. Dainius Zubrus, Jamie Langenbrunner, Jay Pandolfo and John Madden scored for New Jersey, which had its second straight four-goal game and won for the fifth time in six games.
The loss also snapped Colorado’s five-game winning streak at home.
''I thought we were a good team tonight,'' Devils coach Brent Sutter said. ''We stayed within our structure and how we want to play. Obviously, Marty had a great game again.''
Zubrus gave New Jersey a 1-0 lead with his second goal in as many games 14:08 into the first period. Avs goalie Jose Theodore made a save on a shot by Michael Rupp, but Zubrus was on the doorstep to poke home the rebound for his 11th goal of the season. Brodeur kept his team ahead later in the opening period with key saves on Ryan Smyth and Milan Hejduk.
"We need saves, and Marty gets them for us," Sutter said. "We beat a good team today. Marty got into a groove, and that got (the rest of the team) into a groove. Great goaltending always gives you an opportunity to win."
Paul Stastny tied the game 7:15 into the second with his 22nd goal of the season. The second-year pro took a nice feed from Andrew Brunette and blasted a one-timer from the left circle past Brodeur to make it 1-1.
But the tie lasted less than two minutes before Pandolfo restored New Jersey’s lead at 9:02. Brian Gionta carried the puck into the Avalanche zone and left a drop pass for Pandolfo, who fired a wrist shot from the left circle past Theodore for his 12th goal of the season.
"They are a good team with obviously the best goalie in the league," Theodore said. "When you play these guys, you know you're not going to get a lot of goals. There are a couple (of goals) that I would like to have back."
The score stayed that way until 7:52 of the third period, when Langenbrunner gave the Devils a 3-1 lead. New Jersey’s captain took a pretty feed from Zach Parise and one-timed a wrist shot from point-blank range past Theodore.
"It was a big win for us. We expected this to be a tight game," said Langenbrunner, who has 12 goals this season. "It should be interesting down the stretch, but most importantly, we control our own destiny."
Madden made it 4-1 at 11:50, just 37 seconds before Colorado’s John-Michael Liles scored on the power play to round out the scoring. The goal was reviewed after it appeared Brunette had knocked the puck in with his hand following Liles’ blast from the blue line.
"It wasn't one of our better performances in the last two weeks," said Avs captain Joe Sakic, who had an assist and is one shy of becoming the 11th NHL player to reach 1,000. "Once you get down to (New Jersey), they don't give you much."
Brodeur, now 40-22-5 this season, stopped nine of 10 shots in the third period and improved his lifetime record against Colorado to 15-5-6. The Devils’ goalie was impressed with the Avs’ firepower up front.
"They're a good team down low," Brodeur said. "It was unbelievable how much time they spent behind the net. It's hard to defend sometimes. We don't see that kind of offense much."
Material from wire services was used in this report.