MONTREAL - New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur matched Patrick Roy's all-time National Hockey League record for goaltender victories at 551 Saturday making 22 saves in a 3-1 win over Montreal.
A sell-out crowd of 21,273 chanted Brodeur's name as time expired and gave him a standing ovation after he defeated their beloved "Habitants."
"The recognition from the fans was tremendous and something I will never forget," Brodeur said.
Surrounded by his teammates after the final horn, Brodeur pumped his fists in the air and raised his stick in salute to the crowd after his 986th NHL regular-season game.
Brodeur's father Denis, a former team photographer for the Canadiens, watched and took pictures from a front-row seat. "To look around and see the guys reacting ... I finally did it," Brodeur said. "The only one I knew where he was sitting was my dad. He had a pretty good seat." Roy watched from a luxury box as Brodeur matched the mark and posed for photographs after the game.
"I'm happy to be here and see it happen," said Roy, whose jersey number 33 had been recently retired by the Canadiens.
"Nothing against Montreal, but I think it's a great moment in the history of the game and I'm sure Marty is very excited to see it happen in his hometown in front of his family."
Brodeur will have the chance to claim the all-time NHL win mark Tuesday when the Chicago Blackhawks visit New Jersey. "Accomplishments like this don't come around every day and when you talk about history and the game it's a pretty phenomenal thing," Devils coach Brent Sutter said. "Patrick Roy was an outstanding, phenomenal goaltender and I know that first-hand from playing against him."
Brodeur has already achieved a boyhood dream by getting to know Roy. "When you do these kinds of things sometimes you don't have a chance to meet the person," Brodeur said. "I got to know the guy, I played with him. I played against him. We had great battles. hee showed a lot of class. I really appreciated it."
The 36-year-old netminder improved to 13-3-2 on the season and 7-1 since returning on Feb. 26 from a four-month absence for elbow surgery.
Brodeur, a four-time winner of the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goaltender, has a 2.08 goals-against average since his return and hopes to match Roy with a fourth Stanley Cup playoff crown later this year.
New Jersey's Parik Elias opened the scoring with a power-play goal just 5:27 into the opening period and Brian Rolston followed for the Devils with another extra-man goal just 5:41 later.
Montreal's Tomas Plekanec pulled one back at 12:29 of the first period but the Canadiens could not solve Brodeur again and the Devils would also have an insurance goal from Jamie Langenbrunner with 7:03 to play in the third period.