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Brodeur notches 40th win


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DENVER -- Even one of the greatest goaltenders of all time has doubts.

There was a point early this season when Martin Brodeur thought his chance for a seventh 40-win season might be out of reach.

"You always try to have confidence that you'll be able to do it, but the way we started it didn't look like a year I'd be able to play as much and get that many wins," Brodeur said yesterday. "Slowly everything fell into place.

"I don't set my goals that high. I never set any goal to win 40. As far as a 40-win season, I try to be consistent. I play a lot of games, so my team expects me to win 40-45 games."

He hasn't let his teammates down. With a 4-2 triumph over the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center yesterday that kept the Devils atop the Eastern Conference, Brodeur reached the 40-win mark for the seventh time in his career. No other goalie in NHL history has done it more than three times.

"It's unbelievable to watch him shut down some of the best scorers in the league," Devils center Travis Zajac said. "He's the backbone of this team, a remarkable player."

Remarkable might be an apt word for the Devils. They completed their road trip 3-1, winning yesterday afternoon's finale without injured center Patrik Elias (bruised left kneecap).

Of course, they caught the Avalanche without center Peter Forsberg (groin) and defenseman Adam Foote (hip).

"Well, they're getting us without Elias," Devils coach Brent Sutter said. "That's two good players out of their lineup and a pretty good one out of ours."

Colorado also played without defenseman Jordan Leopold (concussion) while Devils defenseman Colin White remained back in New Jersey with an upper body injury.

"It was a great effort by every individual," Sutter said. "We stayed within our structure and how we want to play. And obviously Marty had another great game."

Brodeur (40-22-5) stopped 24 of the 26 shots he faced. Admittedly, he didn't see a couple of them. The Devils had a 2-1 lead and the Avs were on a power play after 1:37 of the third period when Tyler Arnason had a chance from the right side of the crease.

The puck went behind Brodeur, where defenseman Paul Martin pushed it under his goalie.

"I got lucky on a few of those," Brodeur said.

Eighteen seconds later, Joe Sakic couldn't lift the puck over Brodeur at the right edge of the crease.

Jamie Langenbrunner and John Madden scored goals within a span of four minutes as the Devils opened a 4-1 lead. Langenbrunner took a slick pass from Zach Parise and found the top left-hand corner of the net at 7:52.

Madden's shot from the left circle trickled past goalie Jose Theodore at 11:50, giving the Devils breathing room. It probably should've ended that way, but a video review allowed a Colorado power play goal with 7:33 left in the game to give the Avs hope.

John-Michael Liles took a shot that was stopped by Brodeur. The puck deflected into the air, where Andrew Brunette appeared to bat it in with his wrist. But the goal was allowed to stand.

"It went off Brunette's hand or arm," Brodeur said. "I don't know how they counted that."

It didn't matter. Victory No. 40 was soon in the books.

"I can't say enough about what he's done," Langenbrunner said of Brodeur. "His consistency is remarkable. Just watching him day after day is pretty impressive."

How impressive are seven 40-win seasons? Hall of Famers Terry Sawchuk and Jacques Plante are the only others with three.

"I don't even know what to say," Jay Pandolfo said. "He gets better with age."

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