ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Brian Boucher was a third-stringer for the Phoenix
Coyotes when the season began. Now, he has accomplished a feat matched by no
other goalie over the past 70 years.
Boucher broke the record for the longest shutout streak in modern NHL
history, extending his string to nearly 51/2 hours in a 2-0 victory over the
Minnesota Wild on Friday night.
Boucher's streak stands at 325:45, entering a Sunday home game against
Atlanta. He stopped 21 shots and posted his modern-record fifth consecutive
shutout, leaving the ice to a loud cheer from Minnesota's fans.
Early in the third period, Boucher passed Bill Durnan's mark of 309:21 -- set
in 1949 with Montreal. Durnan also held the record of four straight shutouts.
"I did look up at the clock," said Boucher, who has 130 saves since the
streak began. "Once I saw it was, I think, four minutes into the third, I knew
I could breathe easy as far as the streak is concerned.
"That is probably the first time I really was counting down. I hate to do
that, but I don't know if anyone could ignore it. I'm happy that was over and
then we could focus on just winning the game."
Boucher, whose mask is painted to look like a wall built with red bricks,
improved to 6-2-4.
"It's just been unbelievable," he said. "It's just a great ride we're on
right now. I still haven't really stopped to think about it too much. I mean, I
can't explain what's going on."
Behind Sean Burke and Zac Bierk on the depth chart when the season began,
Boucher was left unprotected in the waiver draft and didn't move up until Bierk
injured his groin in November.
Ossi Vaananen and Fredrik Sjostrom scored goals for the Coyotes, who tied a
franchise record by extending their unbeaten streak on the road to nine games
(5-0-4). The last four of Boucher's shutouts have come on the road.
"You almost lose the fact that you have to win the hockey game," Coyotes
coach Bob Francis said. "Lost in all of this is that we're becoming a pretty
good team and we're learning what it takes."
Dwayne Roloson made 30 saves for the Wild, 1-3-5 in their last nine games.
They went 0-for-3 on the power play and are 1-for-30 with a man advantage over
their last 10 games.
"I can't control what he does," Roloson said of Boucher. "He's riding
cloud nine. He gave his guys a chance to win. As a goalie, that's all you can
Richard Park had four of Minnesota's shots, including a one-timer midway
through the second that ricocheted off Boucher's right leg after a perfect
set-up pass by Sergei Zholtok. Replays showed Park turning around, wide-eyed in
disbelief that his shot was denied.
"That's a goal 9.9 out of 10 times," Park said. "I got the shot off I
wanted, but it's remarkable the swagger he's got in the net, the confidence."
The Wild had several chances to score in the first two periods, but they
lacked energy in the third once they fell behind by two goals. Boucher's record
became official less than a minute after Sjostrom scored.
"To me, we were playing better than they were," Wild coach Jacques Lemaire
Minnesota, with 93 goals and an average of 2.2 per game, is one of the
league's lowest-scoring teams -- a 7-4 victory over Chicago on Wednesday
"I thought we played well. We generated some good chances," Roloson said.
"Unfortunately, we didn't get one."
Boucher was an unlikely candidate for this feat, considering he began the
season with only seven career shutouts over his four previous NHL seasons --
three of them with Philadelphia. In fact, Boucher -- a first-round draft pick of
the Flyers in 1995 -- went 85 games without a shutout until his streak began on
"It'll end at some point," Boucher said. "I'm not going into games
thinking about shutouts. Winning is the most important thing."