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On This Date in Sports January 9, 2004: A Momentary Period of Greatness From an Otherwise Sucky Goalie

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Brian Boucher of the Phoenix Coyotes extends his shutout streak to five games, establishing a new NHL modern record by blanking the Minnesota Wild 2-0 at Xcel Energy Center. In stopping all 21 shots, Boucher tops the record that was previously set by Gary Durnan of the Montreal Canadiens 1949. Brian Boucher’s streak would end two days later, with a total 332:01 consecutive minutes without allowing a goal.

Brian Boucher was born on January 2, 1977, in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. Drafted 22nd overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in 1995, he made his NHL debut in the 1999/00 season. Boucher had a terrific rookie season, posting a record of 20-10-3 with a 1.91 GAA and a -918 save percentage and four shutouts in 35 games to help the Flyers win the Atlantic Division. Named as part of the NHL All-Rookie team, Brian Boucher helped lead Philadelphia to the Eastern Conference Finals. However, the Flyers lost in seven games, blowing a 3-1 lead to the New Jersey Devils.

Brian Boucher never again reached the level of play he showed during his rookie season. After two disappointing seasons, the Flyers traded Boucher to the Phoenix Coyotes in 2002. He continued to struggle in Phoenix, as he shared goaltending duties with veteran Sean Burke. Once again, Brian Boucher was off to a slow start during the 2003/04 as the Phoenix Coyotes prepared to open a brand new arena of their own in Glendale after playing at the America West Arena, which was poorly constructed for hockey.

In his final start before opening Glendale Arena on December 22nd, the Coyotes skated to a 3-3 tie with the Nashville Predators on the road. In that game, the Coyotes rallied in the third period, after Scott Walker scored with 45 seconds left before the end of the second period. Sean Burke would start the next three, including a 3-2 overtime loss to the New York Rangers in the Coyotes final game at the America West Arena.

On New Year’s Eve, it was a celebration in the Desert, as the Phoenix Coyotes opened their new arena in Glendale against the Los Angeles Kings. Brian Boucher would be tabbed by Bobby Francis to get the start in goal. Frederik Sjostrom would record the first goal in the new arena as Phoenix won the game 4-0, with Boucher stopping all 21 shots.

After their win in their first game at the Glendale Arena, the Coyotes started 2004 with a four-game road swing. The road trip started with a 6-0 win over the Dallas Stars on January 2nd, with Brian Boucher recording a 35-save shutout. Two days later, the Coyotes skated into Raleigh and beat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-0, with Boucher stopping 26 shots. On January 7th, Brian Boucher was in the crease again as the Coyotes blanked the Washington Capitals 3-0, making 27 saves. The fourth straight shutout tied the modern-day record that Gary Duran of the Montreal Canadiens set in 1949. The NHL regards any goaltending records before 1943 and the addition of the center redline separately. Back in 1927, Alec Connell of the Ottawa Senators had six straight shutouts, with a streak of 460:49.

The record belonged to Brian Boucher all by himself after the Coyotes blanked the Minnesota Wild 2-0 to close their four-game road trip. Boucher made 21 saves, as he shutout streak 325:45, which included 25:45 seconds without allowing a goal in that game against the Predators from December 22nd.

The streak would end when the Phoenix Coyotes returned home to face the Atlanta Thrashers on January 11th as Randy Robitaille scored a power-play goal 6:16 into the first period. Brian Boucher received a standing ovation from the crowd appreciating his historic run. It would be the only goal Boucher allowed in the game, which ended in 1-1 tie as his streak lasted 332:01.

The five-game shutout streak was a momentary period of greatness in an otherwise dreadful season for Brian Boucher, who posted a record of 10-19-10 with a 2.74 GAA and a .906 save percentage. The five shutouts, which were half his season total wins, were the only five Boucher would post as the Coyotes finished last in the Pacific Division with a record of 22-36-18-6. The five saves were nearly one-third his career total, as Brian Boucher bounced around over the last ten years of his career, eventually returning to the Flyers. His final career stats saw Boucher finish with a record of 120-139-30-15, with a 2.71 GAA and a .901 save percentage.