Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils is mobbed by his teammates after defeating the Chicago Blackhawks at the Prudential Center on March 17, 2009 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Blackhawks 3-2 for Brodeur's 552nd victory making him the NHL's all-time leader. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEWARK, N.J. - With the final seconds ticking off the clock, Martin Brodeur saw the shot leave the stick of Chicago forward Troy Brouwer, kicked out his right pad and watched the puck head to the corner.
Within seconds, the buzzer sounded and Brodeur stood alone as the NHL record holder in wins with 552 career victories. Childhood idol and Hall of Famer Patrick Roy was now behind him.
"It was an exciting night," Brodeur said after making 30 saves in the Devils' 3-2 win over the Blackhawks on Tuesday night. "I'm happy that it's done and over with. It's been chaotic, the last few days. It was an awesome night. It was a great reception from the fans."
The end was a fitting tribute for the 36-year-old Brodeur. He leapt into the air and pumped the right hand that held his stick in exclamation as a sellout crowd once again roared "Mart-tee, Mart-tee."
He was immediately surrounded by teammates in a celebration that seemed akin to winning the Stanley Cup.
Instead of hoisting the trophy, Brodeur took out a pair of scissors and cut the net.
"It's definitely harder than I thought," Brodeur quipped. "These basketball players, it's only a little net. This was a big net. I had help from a couple of my teammates."
While other Devils finished the job of cutting down the net, Brodeur took a victory lap around the ice, high-fiving his coaches as he passed the bench.
The victory came in Brodeur's 987th game of a 15-year career played entirely with the Devils.
During that tenure, the likable Brodeur has led the Devils to three Stanley Cup titles and won the Vezina Trophy four times as the league's top goalie. He also backstopped Canada to a gold medal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.
Now he holds the wins record, and another could soon fall. He is within four shutouts of passing Terry Sawchuk (103) for the NHL record, and he has a chance to push his win total well beyond 600.
"If this continues being fun, I'll stick around for a long time," Brodeur said.
As he spoke, a deafening roar of "Mart-tee, Mart-tee" filled the arena.
"Guys were commenting that is was like a Stanley Cup atmosphere there, you know the intensity, the excitement, the buzz in the arena," veteran Devils forward Brendan Shanahan said. "You felt it from the drop of the puck. You felt it in warmup."
Brodeur tied Roy's mark in an emotional setting, his hometown of Montreal on Saturday night with Roy in attendance.
"I thought it was pretty cool in Montreal, but this topped it," Brodeur said.
With family in the crowd in Newark, Brodeur took the ice in front of a full house that cheered him from the warmup to the final buzzer, mostly with the echoing chant of "Mart-tee, Mart-tee, Mart-tee."
Those cheers turned to "Thank you, Marty" as the clock ticked down, and "Marty's Better," once the record was his.
"This is one of those really special moments that doesn't come along often," said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who was in attendance. "Maybe once in a lifetime, maybe once in two lifetimes.
"We witnessed some history here tonight, and the fans recognized that. This building was on edge, emotionally excited throughout."
Brodeur wasn't the only record-setter on the night for New Jersey. Patrik Elias became the Devils' career leading scorer when he recorded his 702nd point with a perfect pass to set up a short-handed goal by Brian Gionta late in the second period for a 3-0 lead.
The Devils took the pressure off Brodeur early with two goals against Nikolai Khabibulin in the opening 6:01 in extending their record for home wins to 10. Zach Parise set up both, finding Jamie Langenbrunner in the slot 38 seconds after the opening faceoff and then threading a pass through the crease to Travis Zajac at 6:01.
After that it was up to Brodeur to protect the lead, and he looked extraordinarily focused in winning for the eighth time in nine games since returning from elbow surgery late in February.
"Congratulations to him. That's outstanding," said New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist form Montreal after the Rangers beat the Canadiens 4-3 in a shootout. "He's had a great career. I don't know how many years he'll keep playing but he still looks sharp and I'm sure he'll get a few more wins before he retires."
Blackhawks defenseman Cameron Barker got the first Chicago goal, firing a point shot past a totally screened Brodeur on a power play late in the second period. Dustin Byfuglien made it 3-2 with 2:03 left in the game.
"With 10 minutes left, I thought, 'All right, this is finally going to happen,"' Brodeur said. "I was a clockwatcher, a little bit. When two minutes came and they scored, I said, 'I've got two more minutes to kill.' It made it tough in the last few minutes, but we got it done."
The loss was a season-high third straight for Chicago, and fifth in sixth.
And Brodeur was a big part of that.
"He is a special goalie," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "You look at the consistency, the volumes of games he can play and his consistency in the net. They changed the rules because of the way he handled the puck. He's amazing. Not many goalies have that style and he keeps getting better and better and better. At this stage of his career, he looks as good as ever."
Parise and Langenbrunner worked a great give-and-go in the opening minute to put New Jersey ahead. Langenbrunner made a pass from the left boards to Parise streaking down the right side, and Parise then found Langenbrunner alone in front for his 24th goal.
Stationed at the left side of the net, Zajac got a slam-dunk for his 20th goal when Zajac found him at 6:01 as a Blackhawks penalty ended.
Elias led a 2-on-1 with Gionta late in the second period and then pumped his fist after the puck went into the net, allowing Elias to break assistant coach John MacLean's record for points with the Devils.
Notes: Roy earned his 551 wins in 1,029 games with Montreal and Colorado. ... Chicago has not beaten New Jersey since Oct. 10, 1998. The Blackhawks are 0-8-2-1 in that span. ... Khabibulin is a 6-3-3 Brodeur. ... Langenbrunner's goal gave him points in nine straight games.