Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur said he had hard time feeling comfortable tonight after he came in to replace the injured Kevin Weekes 57 seconds into the second period. He gave up three goals on 10 shots, but still earned his 554th career win -- extending his NHL record.
"I just didn't feel it too much out there," he said. "I was just hard. They got a couple of shots early. They scored a goal after that. Then, they didn't get any shots. They got a breakaway goal (Ryan Malone) and then after that something bounced in front of me and they get an empty-net goal (Martins Karsums). I just couldn't wait for that game to end."
It was only the 12th relief appearance of Brodeur's 15-season NHL career and his first since March 20, 1998 at Washington when he replaced Mike Dunham halfway through a 2-0 loss to the Capitals.
This one was particularly difficult for Brodeur after the pre-game ceremony and because he was supposed to have the full night off.
"It is tough," Brodeur said. "I'm not going to hide it. Usually, when I get days off, they're days off. Injuries, you can't control that, obviously. But sometimes when somebody is having a tough game, you can kind of prepare youself a little bit for it. But an injury, the amount of times it happend to me in my career, I could probably count on one hand, Definitely, it was weird."
Brodeur sensed Weekes might be seriously hurt when he didn't get up initially, so he turned to assistant equipment manager Matt Mitchell and asked him to get his mask from the locker room. It was eerily similar of Nov. 1 when Brodeur was injured in the second period against Atlanta and Weekes had to get his mask from the locker room.
"He got hurt and he was down," Brodeur said. "Usually you get hurt, you're able to see his face. I kind of went back because I didn't have my mask with me. It was in the locker room. So, I kind of told Matty to get my mask. After that, I'm like, 'Did he get up?' No he's still down. So, I figured all right, let's take the baseball cap off and put the work helmet on."
Brodeur said he enjoyed the pre-game ceremony, in which he was honored for breaking Patrick Roy's NHL wins record on March 17..
“It was awesome,” Brodeur said of the 12-minute ceremony. “What everybody did for me was really appreciated. It was simple and it was tasteful, exactly what I expected from this organization and the NHL."
Before anybody get carried away, the Devils realized that they're not going win a lot of games playing the way they did tonight. But they considered this the first step in the right direction.
"It's better now," Brodeur said. "It's good enough. I don't think you can go out and play like that every night and expect to win a lot of games. We pulled it off. It was a situation that we needed to play a certain way and we came through, But we've got to play better on the road. It will be a little tougher."
They'll find that out Saturday night in Buffalo, which hung on to its slim playoff hopes by defeating Washington in overtime tonight.