Three Stanley Cups, four Vezina Trophies, five Jennings Trophies, plus a slew of awards and accomplishments have helped cement Martin Brodeur as one of the NHL’s all-time greatest goaltenders.
But four years ago today, Brodeur staked a claim to No. 1.
On St. Patrick’s Day 2009, Brodeur claimed his 552nd career victory– a 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in front of a soldout crowd at Prudential Center.
Brodeur stopped 30 of 32 that night as he surpassed Patrick Roy for the most wins of any NHL goaltender of all time.
Though it was Brodeur’s night, Patrik Elias also surpassed a milestone on St. Patrick’s Day 2009. Elias’ assist on Brian Gionta’s
goal was his 702nd point, placing him first all time on the Devils scoring list.
When Elias was announced as the game’s No. 2 star, he skated onto the ice wearing a green fedora to celebrate “(his) day.”
Elias donned the fedora on St. Patrick’s Day 2010 as well, when he was the No. 1 star in the Devils’ 5-2 win over Pittsburgh. But 2009 started the trend.
There was a palpable buzz surrounding The Rock before the game. A “Guys Night Out” promotion– plus a perfect day and the possibility of history– all conspired for a rare midweek sellout against an interconference foe.
Brodeur’s record breaking was the veritable Christening of Prudential Center. The Rock was only 16-months old, and all the great Devils moments– including New Jersey’s three Cups– were celebrated at the Brendan Byrne-Continental Airlines Arena. The Rock was still looking for its signature Devils moment.
But after the Devils struck twice in the first seven minutes, the party was on. New Jersey never trailed, though Dustin Byfuglien’s goal at 17:57 of the third did make things interesting.
Brodeur’s famous save on Troy Brouwer sealed No. 552. His teammates mobbed him, and a post-game celebration ensued. Brodeur cut down the net, and took a lap as the arena chanted “Marty’s Better!”
It was the signature moment in an otherwise odd year for Brodeur and the Devils. When Marty went down Nov. 1, 2008, it appeared the season– and Brodeur’s chase for Roy’s record– would be lost. But Scott Clemmensen spearheaded New Jersey’s 2009 playoff push– winning 25 of 39 games started while Brodeur was sidelined with an elbow injury.
When Brodeur returned on Feb. 26 against the Colorado Avalanche, he was just eight wins from breaking Roy’s record. Brodeur won seven of his first eight starts. His 551st win, a 4-1 win in Montreal on Hockey Night in Canada, tied Roy’s record and set the stage for history on a Tuesday night in Newark.
The Devils finished the 2008-09 season with a 51-27-4 record, and their 106 points earned them the Atlantic Division championship and Eastern Conference No. 3 seed.
Brodeur authored perhaps his best performance in game five of New Jersey’s Eastern Conference quarterfinal against Carolina, when he stopped all 44 shots he faced in the Devils’ 1-0 win at Prudential Center.
Unfortunately, that was New Jersey’s final win of that season. You might remember the two goals Brodeur surrendered late in game seven that boosted Carolina to the 4-3 series win.
Sidney Crosby and the Penguins claimed the Stanley Cup that year, beating the Detroit Red Wings in seven games.