Martin Brodeur realized he had a good chance of catching Terry Sawchuk, and his teammates helped make sure he finished with a shutout.

Brodeur tied Sawchuk's NHL record with his 103rd shutout, leading the visiting New Jersey Devils to a 3-0 victory over the Buffalo Sabres last night.

"Right after the second I was thinking, 'Well, I've got this chance now,' " Brodeur said. "My goal was [get to] 9 minutes, then take baby steps towards it."

The approach worked, as Brodeur was rarely tested in making 22 saves to tie Sawchuk, who played from 1949-70.

"It's a big number," said Brodeur after taking pictures with the historic puck in front of a piece of paper with the number "103" taped behind his locker stall. "When I look back, and all the numbers of other goalies, it's mind-boggling a little bit. It's a little bit like what the win record was. But, especially with hockey changing so much, it's going to get harder and harder to get some."

Brodeur is the only active goalie on the Top 22 all-time shutout list. Detroit's Chris Osgood is the next active goalie behind Brodeur with 50 shutouts, good for 23rd.

Brian Rolston, Travis Zajac and Bergfors scored for New Jersey (20-7-1), owners of the best road record (11-2-1) and a three-game winning streak.

"We made it pretty easy on him," Sabres right wing Jason Pominville said. "I don't think we had 10 shots after two periods. Against the best goalie in the world, you give him 10 shots, he's not going to let up much."

Brodeur tied the record while matching up against one of the NHL's best goalies, Ryan Miller.

Miller, who came in as the NHL leader in goals-against average (1.85) and save percentage (.936) finished with 34 saves, and got little help from a Sabres team that was consistently bottled up by New Jersey's tenacious forecheck.

"If you're going to lose, at least you're here for something good with that," Miller said. "He's a great goalie and has accomplished a lot. That's a lot of shutouts."

In other games:

* At Glendale, Ariz., Scottie Upshall and Taylor Pyatt snapped a scoreless tie with second-period goals 44 seconds apart, Ilya Bryzgalov recorded his NHL-leading fourth shutout and the Phoenix Coyotes won their fifth straight, 2-0 over the Minnesota Wild.

* At St. Louis, Peter Budaj stopped 35 shots, Chris Stewart had two goals and an assist and Colorado ended a five-game trip with a 4-0 win over the Blues.

* At Pittsburgh, Manny Legace stopped 30 shots, Ray Whitney had the decisive goal and an assist and the Carolina Hurricanes won on the road for the first time this season by holding off the Penguins, 3-2. Sidney Crosby returned to the Pittsburgh lineup after missing one game and scored his 20th goal and eighth in four games.

* At Sunrise, Fla., Shawn Horcoff scored once in regulation and again in the shootout, leading Edmonton to a 3-2 win over the Panthers.

* At Toronto, Vesa Toskala made 22 saves in his first start since Nov. 23 and Alexei Ponikarovsky scored goals 28 seconds apart as the Maple Leafs beat the Atlanta Thrashers, 5-2.

* At Tampa, Alex Ovechkin scored two goals in his return from a two-game suspension and Washington beat the Lightning for the 12th consecutive time, 3-0.


* Darren McCarty, a veteran of 15 NHL seasons who won four Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings, officially announced his retirement. McCarty, 37, scored the Cup-winning goal in the 1997 finals against the Flyers to end Detroit's 42-year title drought.