NEWARK, N.J. - Martin Brodeur is closing in on another record.
In his first appearance since breaking the NHL victory record, Brodeur made 35 saves in the New Jersey Devils' 4-0 win over the Minnesota Wild on Friday night for his 101st shutout, just two behind Terry Sawchuk's mark.
"It's a lot of shutouts," Brodeur said. "That record is proof of commitment by an organization to play well defensively. You can't do it by yourself. With the amount of shutouts that I've got, you've got to consider that the team is doing the right things."
And Brodeur is there to vacuum up the mistakes.
"It becomes so standard that it's hard to be amazed," said Brian Gionta, who had a goal for the Devils. "You see it day in and day out, just how good he is and how hard he works. Whether it's practice or warmups, he's battling for rebounds, trying to stop it. He's always trying to not let you score."
Patrik Elias scored twice, giving him 30 for the season, and Johnny Oduya added a goal to help the Devils extend their team-record home winning streak to 11.
The focus was again squarely on Brodeur as the Devils rebounded from an emotional letdown Wednesday night in a 4-2 loss in Carolina with backup Kevin Weekes in goal. That came a night after Brodeur earned his 552nd win to break Patrick Roy's record.
Brodeur was back in goal against the Wild and Jacques Lemaire, his coach when the Devils won their first Stanley Cup in 1995.
While there was a countdown to Brodeur's Roy chase, it's impossible to predict when another shutout might occur. With the way Brodeur is playing, it might not take long.
"We don't know when that's going to happen," Brodeur said. "Shutouts are part being good, part being lucky."
Brodeur is 9-1 with three shutouts since returning Feb. 26 after missing 50 games following biceps surgery.
Not surprisingly, the two defensive-minded teams played a scoreless first period with few scoring opportunities and the Devils outshooting the Wild 6-4.
The Devils scored three times in the second
Elias got things rolling with an unassisted goal at 1:24. New Jersey fired the puck into the Minnesota zone and Wild defenceman Marek Zidlicky failed to control it on the end boards. The puck popped right to Elias who flicked a shot past Niklas Backstrom.
"You can't make mistakes like that when you are on the road playing against a good team," Lemaire said. "Those are mistakes you have to avoid. You do that once a year. Only one time."
The New Jersey goal seemed to ignite the Wild who finally generated some quality chances. Brodeur was up to the challenge, stopping a backhander from Eric Belanger and a crease shot by Colton Gillies.
The Devils broke it open on goals by Gionta and Oduya in a 1:03 span. Gionta finished off a 2-on-1 break with Zach Parise at 9:59 and Oduya followed with a blast from the point that concluded Backstrom's night as Josh Harding came in to finish up.
The Wild, awarded four power plays in the period, outshot the Devils 16-7.
In the third, Elias got his second tally, a power-play goal at 8:32 to give the Devils a 4-0 lead.
The remaining drama centred on Brodeur and the shutout bid that he preserved with stellar short-handed saves on Mikko Koivu, Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Kim Johnsson.
"We couldn't come up nothing," Lemaire said. "We had power plays and a lot of time on it. We didn't build on it. We got nothing."
Notes: It was a rare one-game trip east for the Wild. They will play Edmonton at home Sunday. It also was Minnesota's first trip to the Prudential Center. ... Devils D Colin White missed a second straight game because of a lower-body injury. Jay Leach and Jay Pandolfo were healthy scratches for New Jersey. The Devils called up Leach from Lowell (AHL) on Thursday. He was farmed out March 4 for a two-week conditioning stint. ... Minnesota scratched Brent Burns (concussion), Craig Weller, Derek Boogaard and Kurtis Foster.