By John Kreiser and Brian Hunter | NHL.com Staff Writers
Martin Brodeur's performance in his record-tying 551st victory was the same as in many of the 550 that preceded it, steady -- and successful.
Brodeur tied Patrick Roy's NHL record for regular-season victories by making 22 saves as the New Jersey Devils beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 on Saturday night at a sold-out Bell Centre -- about 20 minutes from where Brodeur grew up.
Roy was in the house as Brodeur won for the seventh time in eight games since returning from a bicep injury that required surgery and kept him out of action for 50 games -- the first serious injury of his career.
He will get his first chance to pass Roy on Tuesday night at home against the Chicago Blackhawks.
With his father, former Canadiens team photographer Denis Brodeur, seated with his cameras by the glass, Brodeur caught up to the goalie he watched as a youngster. The Montreal crowd gave him a standing ovation when the final siren went off and another when he was announced as the game's first star. He raised his stick in tribute.
"It's great. I think my relationship with the fans in Montreal always has been pretty good throughout the years even though I play on the other side," he said. "Today I think they recognized what I did. And I think for me, I grew up in Montreal, getting a standing ovation in Montreal was pretty cool."
Added teammate Brendan Shanahan: "To see the fans recognize him, as they should have, was a classy move."
Brodeur said he looked at his father as the final seconds wound down.
"The only one I knew where he was sitting was my dad," he said. "He had a pretty good seat. So definitely, I glanced at him a couple times. It's a great day, definitely, for me to be able to tie Patrick in Montreal. An exciting time for me."
The Devils gave Brodeur plenty of help, bombarding Jaroslav Halak with 48 shots and jumping out to a quick 2-0 lead on goals by Patrik Elias and Brian Rolston. After Tomas Plekanec scored for Montreal at 12:29, Brodeur kept the Canadiens off the board the rest of the way.
Jamie Langenbrunner added an insurance goal with 7:03 left in the third period, after which Brodeur said he allowed himself to think about tying the record. "When we scored the third goal, I thought, 'All right. This could be it," Brodeur said.
Elias recorded his 700th career point with his 28th goal on a two-man advantage 5:27 in. Rolston made it 2-0 at 11:08 with his 300th NHL goal, picking him a blocked shot and beating Halak with a slap shot from the top of the left circle. Elias' assist was the 701st point of his career, tying him with John MacLean for the franchise record.
New Jersey outshot Montreal 14-7 in the first period and 18-11 in the second. Brodeur preserved the 2-1 lead when he slid to his left after making a pad save to deny Andrei Kostitsyn's shot off the rebound 8:30 into the third.
The Canadiens fell to 1-1-1 in three games since GM Bob Gainey took over behind the bench after firing coach Guy Carbonneau as coach on Monday. Montreal defenseman Patrice Brisebois appeared in his 1,000th regular season game after he was a healthy scratch for Montreal's four previous games.
Brodeur, now 36, improved to 13-3-2 this season. He's started all eight games since his return, losing only to the New York Islanders last Saturday.
Brodeur cheered Roy at the Canadiens' 1986 Stanley Cup parade along St. Catherine St. Roy returned the favor Saturday morning by going to see Brodeur, then watched the game.
"I think it's definitely tough for him with all the media down here and all that, and that's why he came to the hotel this morning," Brodeur said. "We had a good half-hour conversation about a lot of different things, what was going to happen tonight a little bit, and definitely appreciated his time. His junior team was playing about 6-7 hours away from here last night … 9:30 (a.m.) he was meeting me in Montreal, so it's a pretty nice commitment for him to do that."
"He kept on saying how proud he is, and I think for him, he put that envelope up as high as he could. He retired when he was 37, 38 years old and he said, 'good luck to you and get it up there, there's not many guys that will be able to catch you,' so that was nice of him."
Brodeur is a four-time winner of the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goalie and he has led the Devils to three Stanley Cups. One time the title got away was in 2001 when the Devils lost Game 7 of the finals to Roy and the Colorado Avalanche -- a disappointment he recalled as he stood on the edge of history.
He won the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year in 1994 and backstopped New Jersey's Cup-winning teams in 1995, 2000 and 2003.
He's looking forward to the chance to break the record in front of a home crowd.
"For me, all the support throughout the years and winning some Stanley Cups at home, having all these experiences for one organization is really special, and it seems like every time I break something I'm always on the road so hopefully on Tuesday I'll be able to break this record in front of you guys and really enjoy you guys again," he said. "It's been great since I've came back, I think the feedback from everybody in New Jersey has been awesome."
Material from wire services and team broadcast media was used in this report