At least we got to witness history, as New Jersey Devils’ goaltender Martin Brodeur surpassed the all-time wins record of the former member of the Candiens and Avalanche and complete class act, Patrick Roy. Following the final horn, Brodeur celebrated by cutting the netting from the goal with a pair of scissors, as everyone in attendance wondered if it was a joke. It wasn’t.
Otherwise, it was more of the same from New Jersey on Tuesday night where the Blackhawks dropped their eighth game in their last 11 contests and fell behind on the game’s first goal for the sixth straight time. This time around the Devils grabbed a two-goal lead only six minutes into the match on goals from Jamie Langenbrunner and Travis Zajac, the first of which came 38 seconds in.
The ‘Hawks were again relegated to the outside of the offensive zone, counting on two long-range shots to tally their goals. One came from Cam Barker on the power play in the second period to cut the lead to two, and the other came from the stick of Dustin Byfuglien, who corralled a bouncing puck in the high slot and knuckled it by Brodeur late in the third to make it a one-goal game. Byfuglien played one of his best games of the season, getting seven of the Blackhawks’ 32 shots. Joel Quenneville shortened the benches significantly rather early, limiting the third period ice of Andrew Ladd, Colin Fraser and Adam Burish in favor of the other forwards, including Pascal Pelletier, who played well in what is likely his last Blackhawk game of the season with the impending debut of Sammy Pahlsson tomorrow night in Columbus.
On the other side, the Devils’ best players created opportunities and capitalized on a few, including a pretty short-handed goal in the second by American Brian Gionta. Solid defensive play by Paul Martin and his crew limited the Blackhawks’ chances, but the ‘Hawks made this one close in the end.
Following Byfuglien’s goal with about two minutes left to play in the third, the ‘Hawks kept the pressure on the Devils in the New Jersey zone. Nikolai Khabibulin left the ‘Hawk net with about a minute to play, and the ‘Hawks pressed on. When a puck found the stands with about nine seconds left, Quenneville called a timeout to allow Mike Haviland to draw up a play. Following the break in action, Jonathan Toews won the faceoff back to Cam Barker, who fired one towards Brodeur. The puck never made it to the net, but a Troy Brouwer shot had to be kicked aside at the last second by the victorious Devils’ netminder, who won his 552nd career game.
Next up for the ‘Hawks is Columbus, who is streaking. Of course, the Blue Jackets defeated the ‘Hawks on Sunday at the United Center, and they currently sit five points out of the fourth spot in the conference with two more games played than the ‘Hawks.
Making things worse, Vancouver won again last night at home against the Dallas Stars 4-2, bringing the Canucks to a tie for the fourth spot in the Western Conference with the ‘Hawks. The ‘Hawks have one game in-hand.