The New Jersey Devils will honor Martin Brodeur by unveiling a statue in his honor outside Prudential Center on Feb. 8 and retiring his No. 30 prior to a game against the Edmonton Oilers on Feb. 9. NHL.com is honoring Brodeur by taking a look back at his record-breaking and likely Hall of Fame career in a series of stories counting down to his jersey retirement ceremony.
Here is the story of how Brodeur and the Devils won their first Stanley Cup championship:
The clock above center ice raced past 1:00 and kept ticking down.
Fifty-nine, 58, 57, 56, 55, 54…
The countdown was on inside Brendan Byrne Arena. The fans going bonkers, ready to explode in a celebration that was years in the making.
Martin Brodeur, standing in the home goal, staring up at the scoreboard that read a 5-2 in favor of the New Jersey Devils, could finally let his guard down.
"That's when we realized we were going to win the Stanley Cup," Brodeur said.
The Devils were less than a minute away from a four-game sweep of the Detroit Red Wings and from putting the finishing touches on a magical playoff ride that featured 16 wins and only four losses, including a 10-1 road record.
Brodeur allowed seven goals on 75 shots in the 1995 Stanley Cup Final. He allowed 34 goals in 20 playoff games for a 1.67 goals-against average and .967 save percentage. He was breathtakingly good behind a stifling defense.
Finally, the moment was getting to him.
"You start looking around and seeing your teammates going crazy, the fans going crazy, and you're like, 'This is happening here,'" Brodeur said. "You're thinking, 'This isn't just a run anymore. We're going to win this.'
"The last minute was probably the best feeling you could ever have."
Imagine how different it felt from one year earlier, when Brodeur and the Devils dragged themselves off the ice at Madison Square Garden after Stephane Matteau's double-overtime goal ended a classic seven-game cross-river rivalry series and sent the New York Rangers to the Stanley Cup Final.
Heartbreak one year, euphoria the next. It's not a coincidence.
Brodeur feels the Devils won in 1995 largely because of how they lost in 1994. It's about experience, learning through tough losses -- the kind that could send lesser players and teams spiraling out of contention, left staring through a closed window, wondering what could have been.
Brodeur experienced everything but a Stanley Cup Final in '94.
He went save-for-save with Dominik Hasek in a scoreless quadruple-overtime game against the Buffalo Sabres before losing 1-0. He was pulled against the Boston Bruins, put back in, and pulled again, only to start in the Eastern Conference Final against the Rangers.
He lost in double overtime in Game 7 on a goal former New Jersey goalie coach Jacques Caron said was rarely discussed in general, almost never brought up by Brodeur, but definitely not forgotten.
"Sometimes you learn more from a bad experience than a good experience because you remember it more," Caron said. "He knew what it felt like to lose and he didn't want it again. That was his motivation."
Brodeur said the same thing, but it was hard to get a read on his motivation throughout the lockout-shortened 1994-95 regular season. The Devils were good, but they didn't look like they were going to be serious Cup contenders, finishing fifth in the Eastern Conference.
Brodeur himself was average. He had a .902 save percentage. To put it in perspective, it was his career-low save percentage until he had a .901 in 2012-13. His 2.44 GAA was his worst until he had a 2.57 in 2005-06.
"We started every series on the road," Brodeur said, "but we just kind of had an attitude that it was easier for us."
The attitude came from coach Jacques Lemaire's simplified approach on the road, Brodeur said. Lemaire had to react instead of initiate because of the last-change disadvantage. Brodeur felt that benefitted certain players and helped the Devils get into a rhythm in each series.
They went 7-1 in Games 1 and 2. They set an NHL record with 10 road playoff wins.
"We built so much momentum," Brodeur said. "A run like we had in '94 gets you ready to win a Stanley Cup because you know exactly what to expect when it happens."
He didn't know what to expect in the final minute of Game 4 against the Red Wings. He had never experienced anything like it; never come close, even.
"I never won anything before I won my first Stanley Cup," Brodeur said.
Winning followed him for the rest of his career, including two more Stanley Cup championships in 2000 and '03.