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Hawks' kids marvel at Marty

by Mike G. Morreale
NEWARK, N.J. -- The young legs were no match for the iron horse.

The Chicago Blackhawks, who average 25.5 years in age, found that out the hard way on Tuesday before 17,625 raucous fans at Prudential Center when 36-year-old Martin Brodeur stopped 30 shots on the way to becoming the winningest goalie in NHL history.

For several of the young Hawks, including 22-year-old rookie Kris Versteeg, 20-year-old captain Jonathan Toews and 19-year-old dynamo Patrick Kane, it was the first time they faced Brodeur in a regular-season NHL game.

"It was pretty cool playing against Marty; he's obviously a great goaltender and he made some great saves," Kane told "You look at him in the net and he doesn't look any bigger as some other goalies but he seems to stop everything, so it's unbelievable that he got the record so congratulations to him."

For Kane, who won the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie last season after posting 21 goals and 72 points, it was a chance to go head-to-head with the man who garnered the identical trophy 14 years earlier after going 27-11-8 with a 2.40 goals-against average.

"You look at the Devils lineup and they have four solid lines to throw out there," Kane said. "When you see Brendan Shanahan is on the third line, you know you have a team that's pretty deep and pretty good. They're just solid up and down the lineup. We get another chance against them at home (on March 27), so hopefully it'll be a better result for us."

Kane entered Tuesday's game leading his team with 13 power-play goals, 38 assists and 61 points. His 23 goals are already more than he put up during last season's Calder Trophy-winning season. He had an assist on Cam Barker's second-period goal that pulled the Blackhawks within 3-1.

Watching Brodeur break Patrick Roy's 6-year-old record, however, was something Chicago could do without at a time when victories have been few and far between. The loss to the Devils was a season-high third straight regulation setback for the Blackhawks, who haven't celebrated a victory over the Devils since 1998.

Versteeg, who had his three-game goal-scoring streak snapped by Brodeur and the Devils' suffocating defense, entered the contest with 4 goals and 5 points in his previous five games. He leads all rookies with 29 assists and ranks third with 20 goals.

"I didn't even know what to expect, it was a big night for (Brodeur) but, at the same time, we were coming in here wanting to win because it was two crucial points for us in the standings," Versteeg said.

Versteeg appeared a bit frustrated in the third when he was assessed a two-minute minor for diving before exchanging pleasantries with Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner.

Toews, who had his head down as he sat in front of his stall after the game, entered the contest with at least one point in 11 of his previous 14 games, compiling 11 goals and 7 assists for 18 points in that span. He had scored 19 of his team-leading 28 goals over the last 31 games before facing Brodeur.

"I've had a chance to meet him on certain occasions, and obviously he's a great player," Toews said. "It's a huge accomplishment for him but, and no offense to anybody, you never want to be the team that gives it up (the record breaker). But credit to him. As far as we're concerned, we just need to find a way to get out of this rut right now."

The Hawks have now lost five of their last six games and, on top of that, their lead in the race for the fourth seed in the Western Conference has dissipated.

"We just need to get back to basics and remember what we did well when we were successful," said Blackhawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, who made 27 saves. "We just need to get a little bit more desperate and have a sense of urgency."

Veteran defenseman Brian Campbell knew his team needed to gain position down the middle in order to be successful -- something the Devils just wouldn't allow.

"The thing about New Jersey is they collapse and they give you the outside so you do have some room, but they don't give you the middle of the ice because they want all those shots coming from the outside," Campbell said. "They know Brodeur will make that stop 99 percent of the time so that's what they do. Their forwards do a good job and are very patient and persistent."

Contact Mike Morreale at

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