The Blackhawks traveled to New Jersey Tuesday hoping to avoid becoming a footnote to a trivia question: Who holds the NHL record for most wins by a goaltender? At the end of three periods of hockey, the answer was Martin Brodeur.
The 16-year veteran Brodeur tied Patrick Roy on Saturday in Montreal, and was looking to break the record at home at the expense of the Blackhawks. The Devil’s jumped out to an early lead just 38 seconds into the game and were leading 2-0 by the end of the first period.
“There was a lot of pressure out there tonight, I’m not going to lie, this is history in the making,” said Hawks captain Jonathan Toews. “You don’t want to be the guy standing next to Brodeur in a timeless celebration picture. Hey is that the picture? Oh, man.”
New Jersey tacked on a goal late in the second, but the Hawks power-play came alive at the end of the period resulting in a Cam Barker score to bring the game within two. The intensity continued to build through a physical third period, with Brodeur turning away shot after shot from the increasingly aggressive Hawks. With just two minutes left in regulation, Dustin Byfuglien scored to bring the game within one goal.
“When ‘Big Buff’ scored, we felt like we were really going to spoil the celebration,” said Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith. “We were hoping Brodeur was getting a little nervous and maybe we were getting inside his head. Benny
Eager wanted to fight him, but that’s just a bad idea all the way around.”
Forward Patrick Kane agreed, “We took the game right down to the wire, but Brodeur just seems immune to pressure. Like he’s some kind of Japanese-built cyborg goalie. Do you think something like that is possible?”
With a few seconds left, Brodeur kicked away his 30th save of the game and time expired, making the Quebec native the winningest goaltender in NHL history. Brodeur celebrated the victory by symbolically cutting the netting from the goal he defended while the Blackhawks physically restrained Ben Eager.
Number of the game: 30
The jersey number of Brodeur, who now overtakes Patrick Roy as arguably the greatest goalie of all-time.