Making history in hockey's most historic city. How perfect.
With St. Patrick watching from above, Martin Brodeur
earned himself a 50-percent stake in one of the sport's most revered records in the city that will always be home. And, as if this script was meant for Hollywood, Brodeur has the chance to take sole possession of the NHL's all-time record for victories on St. Patrick's Day in a state that has become home.
The New Jersey Devils
goalie stopped 22 of 23 shots Saturday night at the Bell Centre to earn his 551st regular-season victory, 3-1 over the Montreal Canadiens
. Goals from Patrik Elias
, Brian Rolston
and Jamie Langenbrunner
enabled him to tie Patrick Roy
for the most wins in history.
"It feels great, the first crack at it I was able to do it," Brodeur said during his postgame news conference with the bilingual media. "Definitely, I'm enjoying this moment pretty good."
Brodeur did it in front of his closest friends and family, minus his mom, Mireille, who as usual, watched her little boy work his magic from the comfort of her living room -- roughly 20 minutes away. He did it in front of 21,000-plus fans, all of whom stood and gave him a roaring ovation when siren went off to end the game.
He did it with his father only steps away from him, on the other side of the boards, snapping photos through the glass as he has done thousands of times before.
And, of course, Brodeur did it with a giddy Roy, his childhood hero, in the building to witness the historic moment so he can one day tell his grandchildren that yes, he was indeed there to see it happen.
"It was a perfect day for me," Brodeur said.
It'll certainly be hard to top.
Brodeur's day started inside the Devils team hotel, where he met with Roy, whose photo was plastered all over his bedroom walls in his family's house in St. Leonard, Que. Roy expressed his appreciation for what Brodeur was accomplishing.
"He deserves every minute of it," Roy said.
Brodeur's day ended with him at the podium talking to the entire hockey world. Fittingly, Roy, who spoke at that very same podium before Brodeur just like he set this very same record before him, stood by the door, stage left.
If Brodeur can beat the Chicago Blackhawks
on Tuesday night at the Prudential Center, Roy will officially move down to No. 2 on the all-time wins list.
"Accomplishments like this don't come around every day, and when you talk about history in the game it's a pretty phenomenal thing," Devils coach Brent Sutter
said. "Patrick Roy
was an outstanding, phenomenal goaltender. I know that from playing against him. Everything he did he deserved…and yet it's a credit to Marty that he's been able to tie that and at some point will go past it, hopefully very soon."
Brodeur's 551st win looked quite similar to most of the 550 that preceded it. He was steady and successful without breaking too much of a sweat.
"It was nice because for the players it was just another game. It's not like you're playing in the Stanley Cup Final," Brodeur said. "That really helped me put everything into perspective here and say, 'Well, this is just a game we have to win.'"
By the end of the first period, the Devils held a 2-1 lead and a 14-7 advantage in shots on goal. At the second intermission, the score was the same and the Devils' shot advantage had doubled to 14, a 32-18 margin.
Langenbrunner let Brodeur breathe a little bit easier when he beat Jaroslav Halak
from inside the left circle with 7:03 to play in the game. The captain's 23rd goal of the season gave the Devils a 3-1 lead and finally gave Brodeur a chance to take it all in.
"All game long the game was so tight so it didn't really occur to me what was going on. I just wanted to stay in the game," Brodeur said. "When we scored that third goal, I think that's when my mind started wandering a little bit, 'Oh, this is happening,' you know. That was the toughest part of it, but being a close game I think helped me to go through it."
As the clock clicked all the way down to 10 seconds, the Devils had possession in the Canadiens end. Meanwhile, at the other end, Brodeur was standing hunched over, his blocker and his catching glove resting on each of his leg pads, head down.
It was a moment for himself -- and only himself.
When it got to five seconds left, he lifted his body straight up and started pumping his fists. Now he was letting everyone else see how important this was to him.
By the time the clock hit :00, Brodeur had his arms raised and his fists pumping. He made one punch to the air before catching the souvenir puck that Elias had flipped to him.
He was immediately mobbed by his teammates while the Habs' faithful, who seconds earlier were loudly booing their own club, stood in unison to cheer for Brodeur.
"That was pretty amazing," Langenbrunner said of the crowd's reaction. "Zach (Parise) and I were skating off the ice and we said to each other, 'We got chills.' It was a great atmosphere and what great fans here to salute him like that. That made it really special."
With the crowd embracing him as if he actually played for the home team, Brodeur raised his stick to the air and did a full 360, smiling and waving to everyone who was marveling at his historic accomplishment.
All of his teammates, who were now tapping their sticks on the ice, split off into two lines and allowed Brodeur to leave the ice through them. He gave one more fist pump, one more wave of his stick and off he went.
Only for a minute, though.
Brodeur was welcomed back as the first star of the game and, again, the crowd gave him a roaring standing ovation -- one normally reserved for a player wearing the bleu, blanc et rouge.
"It was pretty cool," a clearly touched Brodeur said. "It's pretty rare that you go to a visiting city and you get an ovation from their fans. It's a little different because of the Montreal connection, but for them to recognize what I've done here is pretty cool.
"It's something I will remember all my life."
Contact Dan Rosen at firstname.lastname@example.org