NEWARK, N.J. – Martin Brodeur prefers the record he set last year for most wins to the one he established Friday night: most games played.
Thanks to help from Jay Pandolfo, the New Jersey Devils goaltender extended his wins record, too. Brodeur played in his 1,030th regular-season NHL game to set a record for goalies, making 27 saves and adding an assist, and Pandolfo scored the tiebreaking goal in a 4-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators.
Brodeur passed Patrick Roy, who played 18 seasons for Montreal and Colorado. Brodeur is in his 16th season, all with New Jersey.
“It’s not as important as winning,” Brodeur said of the record. “The reason why I’m here is to win hockey games. But I guess it says a lot about being a good goalkeeper, staying around so long. People seem to make a lot more about it than I do. I guess you have to love the game to be able to stick around.”
Brodeur set the NHL record for career wins by a goaltender last year, breaking another mark previously set by Roy.
“As long as he wants to win, he’s going to continue to own every record,” Devils coach Jacques Lemaire said. “He’s going to continue to pile up the wins.”
Pandolfo, who missed 17 games with an injured shoulder, snapped a second-period tie with a late goal and defenceman Bryce Salvador scored his first of the season for the Devils (24-8-1) with a little more than 10 minutes left.
“It had been a while since I scored,” said Pandolfo, whose previous came Oct. 8 against Tampa Bay. “I had been out of action for a while and it was frustrating to be out that long. It’s nice to get back in the swing of things.”
Pandolfo scored his second goal of the season, snapping a 2-2 tie with 1:38 left in the second period. It was set up by a fine play by Rob Niedermayer, who worked up the far boards behind the goal, then passed in front to Pandolfo.
“I didn’t have to do much,” Pandolfo said. “It was a great play by Rob. I just had to put my stick down and get the goal.”
Jamie Langenbrunner and Brian Rolston scored early goals for the Devils.
Alexandre Picard and Jarkko Ruutu scored for Ottawa (17-13-4), which lost for the ninth straight time to New Jersey, dating to Oct. 27, 2007. Brian Elliot made 18 saves.
Salvador scored his first goal of the season and his first since last February with 10 minutes remaining to seal the deal. It came on a fluke play, but it somehow found the net.
“It’s why you win games,” Lemaire said. “You need to have guys who can pick up the others. If you rely on just one line to score, you can’t win, because then no one else will score. Every team that has this kind of success needs to find players who can score goals who don’t normally score.”
Brodeur gave the Devils a scare midway through the second period, when Jonathan Cheechoo crashed into the goalie with his shoulder. Brodeur was sprawled on the ice for several minutes. But after receiving medical attention, he put his mask back on and remained in goal. “After a while on the ice, I could see that I was all right,” Brodeur said. “But I stayed down for that time just in case, because it was in the head and neck. It just all happened so quick.”
The Devils took command of the game midway through the first period on their first power-play opportunity.
Langenbrunner executed a perfect give-and-go with defenceman Andy Greene to give New Jersey a 1-0 lead at 11:53.
Because he was the last person to touch the puck before Langenbrunner made his move up ice, Brodeur was credited with an assist, his second in the last three games.
Ottawa tied the game just 39 seconds into the second period, when defenceman Picard’s hard wrist shot eluded Brodeur after it appeared to deflect off Devils defenceman Mike Mottau.
“I thought we were playing a good game. I thought we were still in good position to win,” Picard said of Ottawa’s chances before Salvador’s goal. “If that doesn’t happen, maybe the outcome is different. That was a big momentum breaker.”
The Devils responded quickly, when Brian Rolston’s slap shot from a tough right angle went by Elliott just 1:12 after Picard’s goal. It was Rolston’s 12th goal of the season.
Ottawa tied just four minutes later, when Ruutu took a precise two-line pass from Chris Kelly and beat Brodeur to make it 2-all.
NOTES: Prior to the game, it was rumoured that longtime linemates Zach Parise and Travis Zajac would be separated in an attempt to snap both players out of recent scoring slumps. But the duo was paired together on their first shift of the game. … The Senators played short-handed, with veterans Shean Donovan and Jason Spezza nursing serious knee injuries. Spezza is expected to miss six to eight weeks, but Donovan told media members that he will not require surgery for his torn MCL and should return to action soon. Donovan skated for the first time since being injured Thursday.