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On This Date in Sports April 27, 1994: Goalie Battle for the Ages

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It seemed as if nobody would ever score, as the Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils battled into a fourth overtime, with no pucks getting past either Martin Brodeur of the Devils or Dominik Hasek of the Sabres. Finally, after 65 minutes and 43 seconds of overtime, Dave Hannah beat Brodeur on Buffalo’s 50th shot to win score a 1-0 win in Game 6 at the Aud, as Hasek finished with 70 saves.

One was the new kid on the block one was the veteran waiting for his time to shine. That is how it was for Martine Brodeur and Dominik Hasek when their teams met in the first round of the 1994 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Martin Brodeur was the 21-year-old rookie who had transformed the New Jersey Devils into cup contenders, while Hasek as the veteran backup who became the top goalie in 1994 when given a chance by Buffalo.

Martin Brodeur had been around hockey all of his life, born May 6, 1972 in Montreal, he was the son of a the Montreal Canadiens team photographer, Denis Brodeur, who had won a Bronze Medal as goalie for Canada in the 1956 Winter Olympics. Young Martin, after starting in the QMJHL with the Saint-Hyacinthe Laser was chosen 20th overall by the New Jersey Devils in the 1990 draft. After a brief cup of coffee in with the Devils 1992, Martin Brodeur spent the entire 1992/93 season in Utica, before getting his chance to play every day in the 1993/94 season. As the Devils, topped 100-points for the first time in franchise history with a record of 47-25-12, Brodeur was 27-11-8, with a 2.40 GAA, earned the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie.

Dominik Hasek was born behind the Iron Curtain in Czechoslovakia on January 29, 1965. Drafted by the Chicago in 1983, Hasek was not free to sign with an NHL team until 1990. After serving as a backup to Eddie Belfour, Hasek was traded to the Buffalo Sabres following the 1991/92 season. There he continued to sit and wait for his chance as he backed up another future Hall of Famer in Grant Fuhr. After Fuhr suffered an injury in 1993, Hasek finally got his chance to play and became an instant star, posting a record of 30-20-6, with a 1.95 GAA, as he won the first of six Vezina Trophies and was a finalist for the Hart Trophy. With Hasek leading the way the Sabres finished 43-32-9 and were the sixth seed in the playoffs.

The series was back and forth, as the Sabres coached by John Muckler won the opener in the Meadowlands 2-0. The Devils bounced back with a 2-1 win in Game 2, and took back home ice, with a 2-1 win at the Aud in Game 3. After evened the series with a 5-3 win in Game 4, the Devils led by Jacques Lemaire recorded their own 5-3 win in Game 5 to stand one win away from the second round heading back to Buffalo for Game 6.

Needing a win to force a seventh game, Dominik Hasek knew he had to be perfect in Game 6, as Martin Brodeur matched him save for save. The Devils were in control most of the night, but could not get anything past the Sabres Czech goalie. After three periods, the score had not changed from the time each team hit the ice. From there, things just got more intense as Hasek and the Rookie seemed to become superhuman as neither team scored in the fourth, fifth and sixth period. Now playing well after midnight the game entered the fourth overtime, with zeroes on the board. At six periods, it was the longest scoreless game in 58 years, and the sixth longest in NHL history at that point. Dominik Hasek would make 70 saves that night, while Martin Brodeur had 49 stops. Finally, on the Sabres 50th shot, Dave Hannah ended the night and sent Buffalo fans home happy with a 1-0 win.

The teams would hit the ice again in the Meadowlands for Game 7, with the Sabres getting an early goal from Phillippe Boucher. However, the Devils tied the game with a power-play goal by Bruce Driver and took the lead in the second period on a goal by Claude Lemieux. From there it was the New Jersey trap led by a trio of defense stalwarts, in Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer and Ken Daneyko limiting Buffalo to just 18 shots, as the Devils survived the series with a 2-1 win.

The Devils would advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, before losing an epic seven-game series with the New York Rangers, but this was just Martin Brodeur’s first taste of the postseason. He would eventually lead the Devils to three Stanley Cups. Dominik Hasek meanwhile never took the Sabres to the Promised Land but was able to win twice with the Detroit Red Wings late in his career.