ST. LOUIS (AP)—Martin Brodeur climbed another rung on the victory list, even if he wasn’t his usual dominant self.
After surrendering a three-goal lead, Brodeur finished strong to break a tie with Hall of Famer Tony Esposito for fifth place on the NHL’s career victory list in the New Jersey Devils’ 5-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night.
Brodeur made 14 of his 26 saves in the third period.
“Every time you pass somebody who made history in hockey, you’ve got to feel pretty good about yourself,” Brodeur said. “I’ve got a lot of accomplishments.
“If I keep winning and I keep going forward and being focused on what I need to do they’ll be there for me, so that’s nice.”
Brian Gionta scored the game’s first two goals, Grant Marshall got the go-ahead goal and Patrik Elias had three assists for New Jersey. The Devils have won seven in a row and sent the Blues to their seventh straight loss.
“They’re in a difficult situation, it takes a while to turn it around,” Elias said of the Blues. “After the New Year we’re 7-0 and the last couple of games we haven’t played our best games, but we’ve found a way to win.”
Brodeur has 424 victories to pass Esposito on a career list for the second time this month. The New Jersey star recorded his 77th career shutout Jan. 9 against Philadelphia, good for seventh on that list.
“Any time a milestone comes, you feel good about it,” coach Lou Lamoriello said. “I don’t think anybody was thinking about that or worrying about it, including Marty, if you know how Marty is.”
The Devils led 3-0 and Brodeur seemed in complete control against the NHL’s worst team until Dennis Wideman’s power-play goal midway through the second period. Wideman scored on a one-timer from the left circle, a blast that deflected off Brodeur’s glove and the puck trickled in just over the goal line.
The Blues have totaled 11 goals during their losing streak, but they tied it on two goals in a 1:20 span: Doug Weight’s wrist shot between Brodeur’s pads, and Mike Sillinger’s one-timer from the right circle at 6:18.
“When we tied it I felt great, I felt it was going to be our night,” Weight said. “Two shifts later, it’s in our net.
“Again, it was unfortunate at the end.”
Marshall broke the tie with his fifth goal at 11:21, tapping in the rebound of Elias’ shot on the third shot in a sequence that had Blues backup Jason Bacashihua scrambling. Jay Pandolfo added an empty-net goal with 10 seconds left.
Elias assisted on both of Gionta’s goals and Jamie Langenbrunner also had three assists for the Devils, who have outscored the opposition 25-11—with Brodeur recording three shutouts—during the streak.
Gionta has five goals and two assists in his last four games. He scored on a deflection from Elias over the shoulder of goalie Curtis Sanford at 3:24 of the first period, then beat Sanford again with a wraparound on a power play at 11:20 that put New Jersey ahead 2-0. Gionta has a career-high 28 goals this season.
John Madden added his eighth goal for a 3-0 lead midway through the second, one of only two shots in the period by the Devils. Blues coach Mike Kitchen switched to Bacashihua and the move had the desired effect on the team.
“I thought he looked a little bit uncomfortable,” Kitchen said. “When the third goal went in, we had to make a change.”
In the last seven games, linemates Gionta, Elias and Scott Gomez have accounted for 12 of the Devils’ 25 goals. Gomez, has eight goals and 11 assists during a 10-game scoring streak. … The Blues are 1-7-1 against the Eastern Conference and 5-14-3 at home. … Weight added an assist and has four goals and seven assists in his last nine games.