EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) _ After playing in hundreds of tight games,
Martin Brodeur became the first NHL goaltender to win 30 games in nine straight
seasons in a most unexpected way _ a laugher.
``It's a pretty good accomplishment,'' Brodeur said after the New Jersey
Devils cruised to an 8-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night. ``I'm
pretty excited about it.
``Usually I don't care about what's going on but this one is something nice.
A lot of things go into it. Durability and the success of my career really
shows in this record.''
Brodeur (30-17-10) had to make only 20 saves in moving ahead of recently
retired Patrick Roy for consecutive 30-win seasons.
``That's amazing,'' Devils forward Brian Gionta said of the streak by the
goaltender who has led New Jersey to three Stanley Cups since 1995. ``He is the
best goalie in the league, and year after year he shows it. It's because of his
work ethic. He never wants to get beat, be it practice, pregame skate, warmups
or in the game.''
The goal-scoring binge by the usually defensive-minded Devils was their
biggest output since October 2000.
Gionta, Patrik Elias and Jay Pandolfo scored twice apiece, while Brian
Rafalski and Jeff Friesen also scored as the Devils won their third straight
and moved within four points of first-place Philadelphia in the Atlantic
Division. New Jersey has played two fewer games.
The eight goals were their most since beating Montreal 8-4 on Oct. 6, 2000.
Their previous high this season was seven against the Rangers last Saturday.
Elias added three assists. In the last three games, he has a team record six
goals and five assists for 11 points.
Scott Gomez, who centers for Elias and Gionta, had three assists. The line
finished with four goals and seven assists.
Maxim Afinogenov scored a goal and set up another by Derek Roy for the
Sabres, who lost their second straight after getting back into the playoff race
with a 9-1-1 run.
``I thought we were poor every where,'' Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. ``We
were poor defensively. Our goaltending wasn't up to par. When you have only one
line that was in on the scoring, then you don't win.''
Buffalo is six points behind the New York Islanders for the final playoff
berth in the Eastern Conference. The Sabres have played one more game than New
After Elias and Roy exchanged goals 33 seconds apart in the first period,
Gionta gave the Devils the lead for good, putting his own rebound past Mika
Noronen, who gave up six goals on 26 shots.
Pandolfo stretched the lead to 3-1 less than two minutes later, converting
short-handed on a nice feed from John Madden. Afinogenov scored on a power play
with less than a minute to go in the period.
Pandolfo and Madden combined again late in the second period to push the
lead to 4-2 and that broke the Sabres. Rafalski added a goal with less than a
second left in the period and New Jersey got three more in the third.