- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 14, 2009

MONTREAL (AP) - Martin Brodeur big day began with a visit from the man he is set to displace in the NHL record book.

Brodeur returned home to Montreal one win away from tying Patrick Roy’s mark for career wins by a goalie. His first shot at matching the record of 551 regular-season victories came Saturday night when the New Jersey Devils took on the Canadiens _ Roy’s former team.

Just hours before the opening faceoff, Roy went to see Brodeur, who grew up idolizing him and the hometown Canadiens.

Brodeur cheered Roy at the Canadiens’ Stanley Cup parade along St. Catherine St. in 1986. Roy returned the favor Saturday by going to see Brodeur.

“He visited me at the hotel before I came over here and he wished me good luck,” Brodeur said Saturday morning. “That was really nice of him. He’s pretty busy with his junior team so for him to take the time, I really appreciate it.”

While Brodeur was being raised as a Canadiens fan in the Montreal suburb of St. Leonard, his father, Denis, was a team photographer.

Brodeur came back to the neighborhood on Saturday with 550 regular-season wins, a scenario he called storybook because he was home in Montreal and in front of the fans Roy dazzled for so many years.

“I think that says it all,” said Brodeur, who moved within one of Roy’s record with a home win over Phoenix on Thursday. “Patrick would be the first to tell you that when you play hockey, you’re playing to win. Whether you give up four goals or get a shutout, at the end of the day if you win your game everyone’s happy. Your coach is happy, your fans are happy, your teammates are happy.”

Brodeur is a four-time winner of the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goalie and he has captured the Stanley Cup three times with the Devils. One time the title got away was in 2001 when the Devils lost Game 7 of the finals to Roy and the Colorado Avalanche _ a disappointment he recalled as he stood on the edge of history.

Roy isn’t the only goalie Brodeur has in his sights. The New Jersey netminder is also only three shutouts behind Terry Sawchuk’s career mark of 103.

“I had a similar attitude about the game as Patrick, just not as technical as him, and I learned from a lot of different goalies,” Brodeur said. “I look at Patrick and I thought he was great, I look at Dominik Hasek, I thought he was great, and I look at other goalies, Eddie Belfour, and I try to take everything from everybody and incorporate it into my game.”

The 36-year-old Brodeur went 6-1 in seven straight starts after returning from the first serious injury of his 15-year career, a torn biceps in his left arm that was surgically repaired in November.

He missed 50 games because of the injury, after sitting out only 12 games during his previous 14 seasons, and hasn’t skipped a start since his return.

While Brodeur was gone, the Devils surged to the top of the Atlantic Division and closed in on the Boston Bruins for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

“We know we have a chance to catch the Bruins, to add to our division lead over the Flyers, and also to put some distance between us and Washington,” Brodeur said. “There’s more than the record at stake for our team and I think it helps to be playing for a team that has other goals to reach.”

Brodeur has won at least 40 games in a season seven times, including a record 48 wins in 2006-07.

Drafted 20th overall by New Jersey in 1990, Brodeur won his first NHL game with the Devils on March 26, 1992, a 24-save effort in a 4-2 win over Boston.

He won the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year in 1994 and backstopped New Jersey’s championship teams in 1995, 2000 and 2003.

“When that puck is dropped and you’ll have 21,000 people cheering for their team, I think I’ll forget about what is going on,” Brodeur said.

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