Brodeur surpassed Bernie Parent, Philadelphia’s stalwart Stanley Cup-winning goalie, for wins in a season with 48 and the Devils clinched the Atlantic Division title with a 3-2 win over the Flyers on Thursday night.
“I think with him being an icon as far as goalies for the Flyers, to go into Philly and do it here, I couldn’t write it a lot better than that,” Brodeur said.
Jim Dowd scored a short-handed goal midway through the third period to lift the Devils to their franchise-record 49th victory of the season, surpassing the mark set in 1997-98 and 2000-01. They won their fourth straight game and second since Lou Lamoriello fired Claude Julien with three games left in the regular season and the No. 2-seed Devils in first place in the division.
Brodeur stopped 34 shots, including a breakaway in the second, to break the 33-year-old record in the city where Parent led the Broad Street Bullies to two Stanley Cup championships. While some retired stars want to see their records stand forever, Parent said before the game he was rooting for Brodeur.
“This is his year,” said Parent, his retired No. 1 hanging from the rafters. “He’s played fantastic hockey. It couldn’t have happened to a more fantastic individual.”
Parent sent a personal note that Brodeur said he would read at home.
Sergei Brylin and Jamie Langenbrunner each scored power-play goals for the Devils.
Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne had goals for the Flyers, who desperately need points in their final two games of the season to avoid going down as the worst team in franchise history.
Brodeur was booed when he was introduced as the first star of the game, and the Flyers made no acknowledgment of the record.
Parent, who turned 62 on Tuesday, could be bumped from first to third by the time the season is over. Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo had 46 wins entering Thursday night’s game against Colorado, and he still had two more games left. Brodeur and the Devils finish the season Sunday against the Islanders.
“Martin is the best goalie in the league as far as I’m concerned,” Parent said. “He has the passion to play the game like a 22-year-old kid and that to me is a wonderful thing.”
Parent played in 73 of 78 games when the Flyers went 50-16-12 in 1973-74 and scored 112 points. The Hall of Famer went 47-13-12 with 12 shutouts and a 1.89 GAA in 1973-74.
During the Cup years, Flyers fans were fond of a saying: “Only God saves more than Bernie Parent.” Well, now there is a goalie who is winning more than Parent.
With the rules changes that eliminated tie games, Parent said he could see a goalie winning 55 or 60 games one year.
“I understand that shootouts are on the goalie’s side now, but this is a part of it,” Brodeur said. “I wish that anyone that ever looks at the record has a mention of Bernie Parent and his effort with a shorter season and no shootouts.”
Brodeur has won three Cups with the Devils and has them contending for a fourth this season. Brylin set up Dowd nicely with a cross-ice pass for the one-timer and a 3-2 lead.
“Those soft plays in the middle of the ice are unacceptable and ended up costing us the hockey game,” Flyers coach John Stevens said. “It was an opportunity to go ahead and we ended up going behind.”
This year’s Flyers are on the brink of going down as the worst in franchise history. They are last in the NHL with 54 points and are desperately trying to avoid the lowest point total in their 39 seasons. They have two games left to beat the 58-point mark set in 1969-70.
The Flyers play their last two games at home where they won only nine times.
Carter and Langenbrunner each scored goals in the first period.
Not long after Brodeur stopped Scottie Upshall on a breakaway in the second period, the Flyers regained momentum when Gagne scored his 39th goal of the season for a 2-1 lead. Brylin, though, tipped the puck past the right side of Flyers goalie Martin Biron and tied the game.
Notes: D Ryan Parent made his NHL debut for the Flyers. The 20-year-old star prospect was acquired from Nashville in the Peter Forsberg trade. … Upshall returned after missing four games with a collarbone injury. … Flyers D Joni Pitkanen was out with the flu.