Martin Brodeur realized he had a good chance of catching Terry Sawchuk, and teammates helped made sure he finished with a shutout.
Brodeur tied Sawchuk’s NHL record with his 103d shutout, leading the New Jersey Devils to a 3-0 victory over the Sabres last night in Buffalo.
“Right after the second I was thinking, ‘Well, I’ve got this chance now,’ ’’ Brodeur said. “My goal was [get to] 9 minutes, then take baby steps toward it.’’
The approach worked, as Brodeur was rarely tested in making 22 saves to tie Sawchuk, who played from 1949-70. It was Brodeur’s second shutout of the season after he blanked Carolina Oct. 17.
“It’s a big number,’’ said Brodeur after taking pictures with the historic puck in front of a piece of paper with the number “103’’ taped behind his locker stall. “When I look back, and all the numbers of other goalies, it’s mind-boggling a little bit.’’
The record-tying night wasn’t lost on anybody on the Devils - except for maybe rookie forward Niclas Bergfors, who was wondering what the hoopla was all about after the game.
“I told him that Marty set a record, and he said, ‘Another record?’ ’’ captain Jamie Langenbrunner said. “It’s pretty amazing . . . it’s hard enough to get 100 wins in this league let alone 100 shutouts.’’
Detroit’s Chris Osgood is the next active goalie behind Brodeur with 50 shutouts, good for 23d.
The NHL’s winningest goalie, Brodeur earned his league-leading 18th victory of the season. He preserved the shutout with a lightning-quick glove stop on Buffalo defenseman Steve Montador’s wrist shot from the slot 5 minutes into the third period.
“I kind of waved at it, and it hit the top of my glove,’’ Brodeur said. “I got kind of lucky that it stayed in front of me.’’
Brian Rolston, Travis Zajac, and Bergfors scored for New Jersey (20-7-1), owners of the best road record (11-2-1) and a three-game winning streak.
Brodeur tied the record while matched up against Ryan Miller, who came in as the NHL leader in goals-against average (1.85) and save percentage (.936).
“If you’re going to lose, at least you’re here for something good with that,’’ Miller said.
Hurricanes 3, Penguins 2 - Manny Legace stopped 30 shots, Ray Whitney had the decisive goal and an assist, and Carolina won on the road (1-10-3) for the first time this season, beating the team that swept the Hurricanes out of the playoffs last spring. “It’s sad that it’s taken so long. What is it, Dec. 7?’’ Whitney said. “It’s something to build on. Certainly we’re not sipping champagne by any means, but it’s a starting point.’’
Avalanche 4, Blues 0 - Peter Budaj stopped 35 shots, Chris Stewart had two goals and an assist, and Colorado dropped St. Louis to an NHL-worst 5-9-3 at home.
Capitals 3, Lightning 0 - Alex Ovechkin scored two goals in his return from a two-game suspension and visiting Washington beat Tampa Bay for the 12th consecutive time. Ovechkin was suspended by the NHL following a kneeing penalty during a Nov. 30 game against Carolina.
Canadiens 3, Flyers 1 - Mike Cammalleri got his team-high 16th goal after Andrei Kostitsyn scored on Montreal’s third shot of the game in the second period and the host Canadiens cruised to victory.
Coyotes 2, Wild 0 - Scottie Upshall and Taylor Pyatt snapped a scoreless tie with second-period goals 44 seconds apart, Ilya Bryzgalov recorded his NHL-leading fourth shutout, and host Phoenix won its fifth straight. Bryzgalov made 28 saves and Pyatt scored for the third straight game after getting only one goal in his first 20 games.
Kings 2, Flames 1 -Scott Parse and Jarret Stoll scored early goals and host Los Angeles beat Calgary for its fifth victory in seven games.
Maple Leafs 5, Thrashers 2 - Vesa Toskala made 22 saves in his first start since Nov. 23, and Alexei Ponikarovsky scored goals 28 seconds apart to spark host Toronto.
Oilers 3, Panthers 2 - Shawn Horcoff scored once in regulation and again in the shootout to lead visiting Edmonton to its third straight victory.