Neighbors New York and New Jersey kept their nets clear on October 20 nineteen years apart. Their goaltenders, Billy Smith and Martin Brodeur, each earned their first NHL shutout.

In 1974, the New York Islanders began their third season as an NHL franchise. When they first drafted players in 1972, they took goalie Billy Smith from the Los Angeles Kings. Although he was the second goalie chosen by the team, he seemed like the better investment from the start. His 28 saves during his first game, on October 12, 1972, led to a 3-2 victory over his former Kings. Two years and one week later, Smith and the Islanders shared their first ever NHL shutout. While visiting at the Capital Centre, they crushed the Washington Capitals 5-0 thanks to Smith’s 26 saves.

Billy Smith (Photo By Czwerling
[CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia
Commons
)

Smith tended goal for the Islanders until 1989. Along the way, he helped them win four (consecutive) Stanley Cup championships. He spent eight seasons ranked in the top ten for shutouts. In an interesting twist, on November 28, 1979, he received credit as the first goaltender to score an NHL goal. His record for playoff game wins (88) held until 1997, and he remains fourth on the list. He also led the NHL in penalty minutes for a goaltender (489 in regular season and 89 in playoffs).

In 1993, Martin Brodeur had his first of a record-breaking number of shutouts. Drafted by the New Jersey Devils (in the 1st round, 20th overall) in the 1990 NHL Draft, Brodeur had played four games for the Devils before the 1993-94 season. On October 20, 1993 his 17 saves led the Devils to shutout the visiting Mighty Ducks of Anaheim 4-0. That season he earned two more shutouts and the Calder Memorial Trophy as top rookie.

Brodeur remained with the Devils until 2014 and then played seven games with the St. Louis Blues to end his NHL career. Although the Devils were just one win from making the Stanley Cup finals his rookie season, they would win the championship the following season and again in 2000 and 2003. Brodeur was credited as “the backbone of the team’s” success. In addition to preventing goals, Brodeur made three, which was the most of any goaltender. He was the youngest goalie to win the benchmark 300, 400, and 500 games. In December 2009, Brodeur played his 1,030th game (surpassing Patrick Roy’s record) and earned his 105th shutout (breaking Terry Sawchuk’s record). For 15 seasons, Brodeur ranked in the top ten for shutouts. He still holds the regular-season career record (125) and the playoffs career record (24, one more than Roy). His postseason victories (113) and games (205) are second only to Patrick Roy’s. Brodeur tops the NHL lists in wins (691), saves (28,928), and games (1,266).

Of the two goalies with shutouts on October 20, one came to be known for his physical toughness and the other for his mental. Battling Billy Smith said, “The more aggressive it gets, the better I play.” Meanwhile Marty Brodeur commented, “I just don’t get nervous at a hockey rink.” The former was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame the same year as the latter had his first shutout, and the latter was born just as the former joined the Islanders.

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