NEW YORK -- Martin Brodeur's 100th regular-season game against the New York Rangers had the potential to be one of the most special.
Thanks to a four-goal second period marked by numerous defensive breakdowns and unfortunate bounces in front of him, it turned out to be one to forget for the New Jersey Devils goaltender.
Brodeur allowed six goals total on 21 shots and was replaced by Cory Schneider to begin the third period as the Devils lost 7-3 to the Rangers before a sellout crowd of 50,105 in a 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game at Yankee Stadium.
"They threw pucks at the net. They kept it real simple," said Brodeur, who was chosen by coach Peter DeBoer to start the first outdoor game in franchise history. "Some of the goals they scored they didn't even shoot the puck on net. It went off of them or they tried to make a pass and it went off our guys. Just kind of a tough break, tough game to be part of … you're looking forward to these kinds of events and then you have a result like that."
The Devils held a 3-1 lead when Travis Zajac scored with 3:53 left in the first period, but a point shot by Rangers defenseman Marc Staal eluded Brodeur 52 seconds later and then the second period gradually deteriorated into a nightmare.
Mats Zuccarello scored twice, the tying goal coming off a 2-on-1 break at 2:48 when a John Moore pass deflected off Zuccarello's skate and past Brodeur. Zuccarello put the Rangers in front to stay at 12:44 by scoring off Derick Brassard's pass on another odd-man rush.
"You definitely don't want to have a game like that in front of him," Devils defenseman Bryce Salvador said. "Definitely we wanted to get the win for him and try to let him have a favorable memory, especially with the career he's had."
Brodeur was aiming for his 50th regular-season win against the Rangers, but instead was removed during a game for the first time this season after Zuccarello's goals were followed by two that changed direction off his defensemen before going in. Carl Hagelin got credit for the fifth Rangers goal, at 13:53, when Hagelin's shot appeared to get a piece of Marek Zidlicky, and Rick Nash ripped a shot that deflected off Mark Fayne with 28.5 seconds left in the period.
Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who recovered from a difficult first period to earn the win with 19 saves, was able to sympathize with Brodeur's plight.
"I thought after giving up the third goal if I would finish the game," Lundqvist said "Other goalies go through this. It was a tough game to play; there were a lot of odd-man rushes and it's tough to come up with the saves.
"In the second and third periods we controlled the middle of the ice."
Despite allowing six goals on 21 shots, New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur chalked up his loss to the New York Rangers in the 2014 NHL Coors Light Stadium Series game to a bad day at the office. (Photo: Brian Babineau/NHLI)
The Devils had been the only NHL team not to have made an in-game change of goalies this season, but Brodeur said he let DeBoer know following the second he wouldn't object if the coaching staff wanted to get Schneider into the game.
"Maybe he would have done it anyway, but I know that in a game like that if I would have been the backup it would have been fun to have a little taste of it and see what it is," Brodeur said.
DeBoer said Brodeur's comments factored into his decision and absolved the 41-year-old of most of the blame for the outcome.
"We didn't help him out much," DeBoer said. "At that point I had a conversation with him and we both agreed, and it was actually his comment that how about give [Schneider] the experience of a period in this environment. It wasn't working for [Brodeur] or our group the way it was. So I give him credit for that. It made sense too."
Schneider faced five shots, one of them a Derek Stepan penalty shot midway through the third that resulted in the Rangers' final goal.
"It was a tough game as far as us giving up some good chances," Schneider said. "It seemed like one of those things where everything was hitting something and going in. It's unfortunate."
For a goaltender who has won three Stanley Cups and holds a multitude of NHL records for his position, beating the Rangers at Yankee Stadium could have been a pleasant memory for Brodeur to add to his resume. He managed to take in stride that Sunday didn't go exactly as planned.
"Today the puck didn't hit me," Brodeur said. "It's just one of those days and it's unfortunate timing, but it is what it is."