. -- Patrik Elias
couldn't think of a better day to become the New Jersey Devils
all-time leading scorer.
Elias had the primary assist on Brian Gionta
's shorthanded goal late in the second period of a 3-2 victory against Chicago here at the Prudential Center. The win made Devils goalie Martin Brodeur
the NHL king for wins by a goalie -- and the assist allowed Elias to pass John MacLean
, now a Devils assistant coach, for top spot on the franchise scoring list.
Elias has 702 points in 815 games with the Devils in a career that began in 1996.
"I'm proud of myself, no question about it," Elias said Tuesday night. "It's a credit to my parents, obviously, and all the coaches along the way and getting a chance here and just kind of developing into the player I am."
He didn't even mind -- at least not too much -- playing second fiddle to Brodeur, who forcefully took center stage with Tuesday night's win. Elias had tied MacLean's record with two points in a 3-1 victory against Montreal on Saturday, but again Brodeur glommed the spotlight by equaling Patrick Roy
's mark for wins -- and did it in Brodeur's hometown.
"Every win is special, but obviously tonight and last game it was more special because of what was happening," Elias admitted. "I'm proud of being (Brodeur's) teammate and sharing a lot of those wins along the way."
Brodeur is also proud of the relationship the two players have, a bond that was forged through the white-hot intensity of playoff hockey. Since Elias reported for full-time duty in the 1997-98 season, the Devils have never missed the playoffs; they won Stanley Cups in 2000 and 2003.
"It was great for Patrik," Brodeur said of his friend setting his own indelible mark in the Devils' record book. "I think the ovation was kind of great, too, when he got that point and it was announced to everyone what he had accomplished.
"Definitely, it is kind of tough that he got overshadowed for what I accomplished, but it's a tremendous feat what he did tonight. Patrik is one of the players that played the longest here in New Jersey, so it is kind of nice that we got to share the same date on a big record like that."
It was also nice that Elias' record-setting point was a beauty, like so many of the points he has amassed in overtaking MacLean.
On the play in question, the Devils were keyed on a 3-on-1 shorthanded break when defenseman Mike Mottau
scooped up a loose puck and fired an outlet pass to Elias, who used his speed to go wide to the right, drawing Chicago defenseman Brian Campbell
with him. When Campbell was sufficiently committed, Elias threaded a sweet backhand pass right into Gionta's wheelhouse for what ended up being the game-winning goal.
"On the play, that is what Patty does -- he shows a lot of patience out there; sucks guys to him and finds the open guy," Gionta told NHL.com. "That's what he did on that play. (the pass) was perfect, right where I needed it. He sucked a couple guys to him and I was wide open."
Gionta made no mistake with the shot, catching Chicago goalie Nikolai Khabibulin
trying to scramble post-to-post and setting off a celebration that served as a warm-up for the bigger one for Brodeur at the game's conclusion.
For Elias, it was also significant that his record-setting point came in a penalty-killing situation. Despite being the most prolific offensive player in Devils' history, Elias -- like all good Devils -- takes immense pride in his defensive game.
"I love playing in those (situations) -- in all of them," Elias said. "I want to be out there. You're more into the game, it keeps you focused, you have to think about defensive style, offense, everything. It keeps your momentum going."
Captain Jamie Langenbrunner
agreed that the shorthanded production was perhaps the most fitting tribute to Elias on his record-breaking night.
"I'm proud of myself, no question about it. It's a credit to my parents, obviously, and all the coaches along the way and getting a chance here and just kind of developing into the player I am." -- Patrik Elias on becoming the Devils all-time leading scorer
"He's one of the better all-around players, period," Langenbrunner told NHL.com. "Somewhere in this year, with Zach (Parise) having a great year and Marty setting these records, people are losing track of the fact that Patrik is putting up another good year and has been a huge player for us.
"Rightfully so, he's the franchise leader in scoring and he's got a ways to go in his career and will extend that lead for a while."
Elias was clearly touched by the standing ovation the Prudential Center crowd rained upon him when his feat was officially announced over the PA system. He luxuriated in it for a few seconds, reflecting on what he had accomplished, before giving the crowd a little wave as play resumed.
So what does the record mean to Elias?
"It means that I am doing something right out there and, like I said, I'm fortunate to play with a lot of good players in a great organization with great coaches and hopefully I can keep it going here," Elias said.