NEWARK, N.J. - No matter what the New Jersey Devils do to change the team in the off-season, the face of the franchise remains Martin Brodeur.
Brodeur stopped a penalty shot and finished with 25 saves and the Devils spoiled Scott Gordon's NHL coaching debut with a 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Friday night.
"Marty is Marty. He is the best goalie of all-time," said centre Brian Rolston, whose return to the Devils along with Bobby Holik - another former Stanley Cup winner with the Devils - were the big moves for New Jersey in the off-season. "He was awesome again tonight and unfortunately that is what everyone is expecting of him."
Hockey historians also are expecting a record or two this season from the 36-year-old, four-time Vezina Trophy winner. His win in the season opener gave him 539 in his career, 12 shy of the NHL mark held by Patrick Roy.
"Hopefully, he can get those wins he needs as quickly as possible," said Patrik Elias, who scored the deciding goal early in the second period. "That's the best for us. The more wins he gets, the better for the team. It looks like he hasn't missed a beat. Nothing has changed. That's great for us."
Brodeur said it has been tough waiting a week to play the season opener.
"It was nice to be in our building and have people cheering for us," said Brodeur, who heard a lot from Rangers' fans after New York eliminated New Jersey in the first round of the playoffs last spring.
Zach Parise also scored for New Jersey.
Doug Weight had a power-play goal for the Islanders and Joey MacDonald made 27 saves filling in for longtime starter Rick DiPietro, who is working his way back from surgery. He played in only one pre-season game.
Gordon said the team was just being careful with DiPietro.
"If we were to lose the first three games of the year and he is better for it, then we are a better team for it," said Gordon, the replaced Ted Nolan behind the bench.
Gordon was happy with his team's effort.
"We had some opportunities in the slot that Brodeur made great saves on," said Gordon, the AHL coach of the year last season with Providence. "You know what, the first period we were a little jittery but I thought we picked it up in the second and continued in the third."
The only goal Brodeur gave up came on a deflection off a teammate. Other than that he was perfect, although he got help when Richard Park had shots in the first and second period hit off goalposts.
Brodeur's best save came late in the first period on a penalty shot by Kyle Okposo. The young forward stumbled slightly after skating into the Devils' zone, but he got off a rising shot to the top corner of the net that Brodeur deflected away with his glove.
"I tried to give him something to take, and I gave him a little of my glove," Brodeur said. "He took it. He has a hard shot and I thought he would try to overpower me, and that's what he did. He made a good try. I got a little piece of it, just enough."
Brodeur also stopped Jeff Tambellini and Jon Sim in close late in the second period and he stopped two blasts from the point by new Islanders defenceman Mark Streit early in the third period with New York holding a 4-on-3 skating advantage.
In the final minute, he stopped another point shot by Streit through traffic and then came up big on the rebound by Mike Comrie.
Elias provided the game winner 29 seconds into the middle period on a bang-bang play in front. Brian Gionta sent a pass across the crease that Elias nudged toward MacDonald while the two bumped. The rebound lay in the crease for a second and that's all Elias needed to find it and backhand it into the net.
The Devils had the better of the play in the first period but the teams left the ice tied at 1 thanks to a couple of crazy bounces.
Weight, who was signed as a free agent in the off-season, got his first goal with the Islanders when his centring pass hit off the skate of Devils defenceman Paul Martin and slid past Brodeur at 9:48.
Parise, who led the Devils with 32 goals last season, tied the game on a power play. MacDonald stopped Martin's shot from the point, but the rebound angled to the right circle and Parise deposited a backhander into a wide-open net.
Notes: Centre Josh Bailey, the No. 1 pick overall in the NHL draft in June, was scratched by the Islanders. He left practice on Thursday after 10 minutes. The team did not say whether he was injured. ... The Devils were 2-5-1 against the Islanders last season. ... Finnish defender Anssi Salmela made his NHL debut with the Devils. ... Streit had a point in his first game with the Islanders.