NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -Marty's back, as good as ever.
Martin Brodeur recorded his 99th career regular-season shutout, making 24 saves in his first game since elbow surgery in early Novemeber as the New Jersey Devils beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-0 on Thursday night.
The shutout was Brodeur's third in 11 games this season and it moved him within four of Terry Sawchuk's regular-season career mark of 103.
Zach Parise, Jamie Langenbrunner, Patrik Elias and Travis Zajac scored, but the night belonged to Brodeur as he picked up his 545th career win, moving within six of tying Patrick's Roy's NHL record.
The four-time Vezina Trophy winner as hockey's best goalie was greeted by a standing ovation from fans when he stepped on the ice for the pre-game warmup and they cheered every time he touched the puck, even when he simply directed it to the corner.
Despite missing 50 games after having surgery to repair a torn biceps in his left elbow, Brodeur was very sharp. He got a gimme on his first save, a shot from the red line by Chris Stewart about six minutes into the contest.
The Avalanche had their chances though. Milan Hejduk forced Brodeur to make a very good pad save with nine minutes left in the period and he also tested the 15-year veteran with a rebound late in the period.
Brodeur made a sliding save on Ben Guite early in the second period and he somehow got in front of a power-play chance by Wojtek Wolski later in the period.
Wolski would beat Brodeur on a short-handed chance just minutes later, but the puck hit off iron and bounced away.
Other than the opening shift of the third period and a late power play, Brodeur had little work in the final frame.
Langenbrunner gave Brodeur the only goal he would need 4:38 after the opening faceoff.
Parise intercepted a pass by Ian Laperriere in the Devils' zone and quickly fed it to Zajac, who pushed the puck to Langenbrunner coming down the right wing. Langenbrunner let a slap shot go from the right circle and it beat Andrew Raycroft between the pads for his 19th goal of the season.
Elias got a little lucky getting his 24th goal on a power play at 8:43 of the second period. Defenseman Paul Martin took a pass from Parise and fired the puck to the left of the net. It bounced off the end boards and came right back in front to Elias, who backhanded it home.
Parise, tied with Jeff Carter of Philadelphia for second in the NHL in goals this season, powered his way past Colorado defenseman Brett Clark in the third period and beat Raycroft in close.
Zajac closed out the scoring with 3:13 to play after the Devils kept the puck in the Avalanche zone for nearly a minute.
Notes: The Avalanche had killed off a season-high 18 consecutive penalties before Elias scored on the power play. ... Laperriere's fighting penalty in the second period pushed him over 100 minutes in penalties for the fourth straight year and the 12th time in his career overall. ... Scott Clemmensen and Kevin Weekes had two shutouts in the 50 games Brodeur was sidelined. Brodeur had missed only 12 games due to injury in his previous 14 seasons.