DENVER – Martin Brodeur made one save using the handle portion of his stick, another by extending his elbow out just in time to deflect away a shot.
“I get lucky on a few,” Brodeur said with a grin.
There’s a little skill involved, too. Brodeur stopped 24 shots to reach 40 wins for a record seventh time in New Jersey’s 4-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday.
Brodeur said the 40-win mark was nice, but he’s more concerned with turning in solid performances every night.
“I build my career and the way I play around being consistent,” Brodeur said. “I play a lot of games, my teammates expect me to win 40 games. They (goals) are nice to accomplish, but your team has got to be a big part of it also.”
The Devils’ offence tallied four goals for a second straight game as Dainius Zubrus, Jamie Langenbrunner, Jay Pandolfo and John Madden all scored.
“I thought we were a good team tonight,” said Brent Sutter, whose squad has won five of six. “We stayed within our structure and how we want to play. Obviously, Marty had a great game again.”
Brodeur extended his own NHL record by reaching 40 wins again. Brodeur broke the league mark last season by earning 48 victories, and is 18 shy of topping former Avalanche goalie Patrick Roy’s career record of 551 wins.
“That’s why he’s the best in the game,” Sutter said. “I say those things, but it’s the truth. It’s a darn good accomplishment on Marty’s part, but we’re not a satisfied group.”
The Avalanche had their five-game winning streak at home halted. The injury-riddled team got back Ryan Smyth, who’s been out for six games with a concussion and separated shoulder, but were still without Peter Forsberg (groin), Jordan Leopold (head injury) and Adam Foote (hip).
Not that Colorado will use injuries as an excuse. The team simply didn’t put enough shots on Brodeur.
“It wasn’t one of our better performances in the last two weeks,” said Joe Sakic, who had an assist and is one shy of becoming the 11th NHL player to reach 1,000. “Once you get down to (New Jersey), they don’t give you much.”
Brodeur (40-22-5) turned in one brilliant save after another as he improved to 15-5-6 in his career against Colorado. He joked that his neck was a little stiff after the game thanks to all the time Colorado spent with the puck behind the net.
“They’re a good team down low,” Brodeur said. “It was unbelievable how much time they spent behind the net. It’s hard to defend sometimes. We don’t see that kind of offence much.”
In fact, he had a little chat with the defencemen in between periods. He basically told them to keep out of his goal crease.
“They get mesmerized and too close to me,” Brodeur said. “I said, ‘Stay out of my blue.’ I want to make sure I have room to move. We had to adjust because it was like a big huddle in front of the net.”
Brodeur’s best save came early in the third period when he was sprawled on the ice and used the handle portion of his stick to keep a puck from trickling into the net.
“I knew it was there, but I can’t get there,” he said. “In desperation, I threw my stick back and got lucky.”
He was shocked that John-Michael Liles’ third-period goal stood up to a video review. Brodeur thought Andrew Brunette knocked the puck in with his hand on Liles’ slap shot from near the blue-line.
“I don’t know how they counted it,” Brodeur said. “It hit his hand or wrist, that’s what I saw in that traffic.”
Jose Theodore continued to struggle against the Devils, falling to 4-13 against New Jersey. He finished with 23 saves.
“They are a good team with obviously the best goalie in the league,” said Theodore, whose team went 8-2 against the Eastern Conference this season. “When you play these guys, you know you’re not going to get a lot of goals. There are a couple that I would like to have back.”
Now that Brodeur has reached the 40-win plateau this season, he’s setting his sights on his next achievement – 45.
“We’ll see if we can get that,” he said.
Notes: The Avalanche recalled F Wyatt Smith from Lake Erie (AHL). The team sent down D Jeff Jillson. … The Devils made their first visit to the Mile High City since Nov. 30, 2003. … Brian Gionta had two assists for the Devils. … Devils F Patrik Elias missed the game with a bruised knee. … Colorado F Paul Stastny scored his 22nd goal early in the second period.