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Devils open on fire


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Devils open on fire


Saturday, October 7, 2006



RALEIGH, N.C. -- When the final horn sounded, Devils center John Madden picked up the loose puck at center ice, skated over to goaltender Martin Brodeur and placed it in his catching glove.

Brodeur keeps the pucks from all of his shutouts and this was a double milestone night for the two-time Vezina Trophy winner, but the game also was a big one for Claude Julien.

It was Julien's first game and win as head coach of the Devils and his players could not have given him a more thorough effort in trouncing the Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes, 4-0, Friday night at the RBC Center.

So, though Brodeur had moved into a tie with the legendary Terry Sawchuk for third place all time with his 447th win and pulled into a tie for fifth all time with his 81st shutout, Julien also had a claim to that puck, which traditionally goes to the head coach after his first win.

"I don't know," Brodeur said after his 29-save performance. "I'll see what I can negotiate with him."

The puck probably won't matter to Julien. From Zach Parise's goal just 26 seconds into the game -- the fastest goal at the start of a season in team history -- the Devils were in complete control and gave their new coach plenty to be pleased with.

"A great way to start out," said Julien, the former Canadiens' coach. "I thought our team played a pretty smart game [Friday night.] This is a pretty good hockey club and I thought we made some smart decisions. We stayed away from high-risk plays and I thought we played a good game in our own end. Marty made the big saves when we needed them."

Returning to the scene of last season's five-game playoff loss to the 'Canes, the Devils showed, for one night at least, that they measure up pretty well against the reigning champions. They didn't let up after Parise's goal, the first of two for him on the night.

Jamie Langenbrunner and newly-minted captain Patrik Elias also scored in the first period. The top line of Parise, Scott Gomez (two assists) and Brian Gionta (three assists) combined for seven points.

"It's nice to beat them," Brodeur admitted. "You always have a rivalry with the team that beat you. We knew coming into this building that it is one that hasn't been good to us at all. There was a lot of emphasis on playing a solid game here."

The Devils used four deflections to beat goalie Cam Ward. Parise deflected defenseman Colin White's left point shot between Ward's legs on the first shift of the game.

"We came out pretty fired up, pretty excited and that's what we wanted," Parise said. "We wanted to bring it to them all night."

It was the second opening-night shutout in team history, matching a 4-0 home win over Florida in 1995-96. Brodeur pulled even with Tiny Thompson and Alex Connell in career shutouts and is only one shutout behind Jacques Plante for fourth all time.

Brodeur also is now only 10 behind Florida' Ed Belfour for second place in wins. Patrick Roy is first all time with 551 wins.

At 34 years, 153 days, Brodeur is the youngest and took the least games (814) to reach that number, surpassing Roy in both categories. Roy collected his 447th victory in his 846th game at the age of 35 years, nine days.

Brodeur realized the significance of tying Sawchuk, though.

"That's a man that held that record for a long time," Brodeur said. "Even though Patrick and Eddie surpassed him, it's somebody all goalies for the longest time looked at him to be the top guy."

There was one scary moment for the Devils. White left the game with 11:04 left in the second period with what appeared to be a serious left leg injury after being struck with an Erik Cole shot. White could put no weight on his left leg as he was helped off the ice, but remarkably was back five minutes later and finished the game with no signs of trouble.

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