Red light district
Offenses come to life as Devils rout Ducks 6-3 in Game 5Posted: Thursday June 05, 2003 10:50 PM
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Give them a break -- and add in some lucky bounces. Everything went the New Jersey Devils' way, and now the Stanley Cup might be headed their way again, too.
Brian Gionta scored a goal and set up Jay Pandolfo for the go-ahead score -- neither of which went off the Devils' sticks -- in a decisive second period, and New Jersey beat the Anaheim Mighty Ducks 6-3 in Game 5 Thursday night.
After four games of limited scoring chances, minimal open ice, little scoring and excellent goaltending, all of the above vanished in a shootout that was the antithesis of the Stanley Cup finals to date.
"It was unbelievable," Devils goalie Martin Brodeur said. "What a weird game. I'm really thankful for my offense -- and you usually don't say that too often, because they don't score too many goals."
What didn't change was the Devils' dominance on home ice. They've outscored the Ducks 12-3 while winning all three games at Continental Airlines Arena, and they're 11-1 at home in the playoffs. That matches Edmonton's 1988 record for home wins in a playoff year.
"But it's the toughest [win] to get," Pandolfo said. "So close and yet so far away."
That's what the Devils found out two years ago. This is the third time in four seasons that they've led the finals 3-2; they beat Dallas in six games in 2000 but dropped the final two to Colorado in 2001.
The Devils can raise the Cup by winning Game 6 Saturday night in Anaheim, where the Ducks won two closely played games in overtime to even the series.
"There were a few bounces that didn't go our way in Anaheim, but we didn't let that bother us," said Jamie Langenbrunner, who scored twice in the third period. "We didn't let that get us down. Tonight, we got a few fortunate bounces."
Not that they were about to turn them down.
"We have confidence at home and some times you get good bounces when you have confidence as a team," Pandolfo said. "We were going to the net hard. Funny things happen when you do that."
The only players working overtime Thursday were the goalies, Brodeur (20 saves on 23 shots) and Jean-Sebastien Giguere (31 saves on 37 shots). Giguere hadn't allowed more than three goals in any playoff game this spring, including seven overtime games.
"This goalie's been unbelievable for them. Hopefully, we got to his confidence a little bit," Pandolfo said. "We just seem to play well at home. Now we've got some confidence offensively maybe we can take to Anaheim."
The up-and-down, free-flowing game looked nothing like the first four games, when there wasn't a single goal scored in the first period. This time it was 2-2 after one period before the Devils retook the lead -- not by putting the puck in the net, but by letting the Ducks do it for them.
Gionta, who had been without a goal in the playoffs, threw the puck toward the net from along the right-wing boards, and it deflected off Ducks forward Mike Leclerc's stick and into the net before Giguere could react at 3:12.
"That's an honest mistake. Mike's a hard worker. It's just unfortunate that it went into our net," said Giguere, who gave up four goals on the Devils' first 18 shots.
Samuel Pahlsson tied it just over three minutes later, but Pandolfo gave the Devils the lead for good at 4-3 midway through the period on a goal that was initially waved off by referee Bill McCreary.
Gionta was trying to get the puck down low when it deflected off Pandolfo's skate and past Giguere. McCreary signaled no goal, indicating Gionta had kicked the puck in.
Replays showed there was no distinct kicking motion by Gionta -- the criteria the NHL uses to determine if a player is intentionally trying to deflect the puck -- and director of officiating Andy Van Hellemond called it a goal after watching a replay.
Ducks coach Mike Babcock said the goal should have counted.
"I mean, the kid tried to stop it, it hit his foot and it went in. Good break for them," Babcock said.
Langenbrunner added his 10th and 11th goals of the playoffs, the only scoring in the third period. Gionta assisted on the second one, giving him a three-point night. Langenbrunner's first goal also came off an odd bounce, going off Ducks defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh and the boards behind the net before deflecting in.
"We're disappointed with the way we played," said the Ducks' Paul Kariya, who is still without a goal in the series. "Six goals in a playoff game is embarrassing. It's not our style of game, and we're not going to have any success like that."
The game wasn't a minute old before it became clear it would be quite different from the previous four. Petr Sykora, the Ducks' leading goal scorer during the season but largely ineffective in the series, scored with only 42 seconds gone.
At that point, Anaheim had more goals than it had scored in 120 minutes over the first two games on New Jersey ice, which the Devils dominated with twin 3-0 victories.
But in a series in which the winner scored first in each of the first four games, any momentum Anaheim had vanished when Pascal Rheaume deflected Turner Stevenson's wraparound shot past Giguere less than three minutes later.
The Ducks had been 10-0 when scoring the first goal, just as New Jersey is.
"Whoever scores the first goal wins? Wash that one out," Burns said. "We came back right away, and that's probably what settled everybody down."
The Devils took a 2-1 lead on only their 12th power-play goal of the playoffs, by Patrik Elias at 7:45. It was New Jersey's first lead in the series since Brodeur lost his stick and let in Ozolinsh's goal in Game 3.
But the Ducks tied it just over five minutes later as Steve Rucchin scored from the slot off successive quick passes by Sykora and Kariya.
Just like that, what had been one of the lowest-scoring finals in a half-century suddenly had its highest-scoring period since the Red Wings and Flyers also combined for four goals in the first period of Game 3 in 1997.
"We scored three goals, and that should be enough to win in the playoffs," Giguere said.
In the first finals since 1978 in which the home team has won the first five games, the Ducks plan to use that to their advantage Saturday.
"We're not frustrated at all," Steve Thomas said. "We're down 3-2 and we're going home where we've been real good. We're a pretty comfortable bunch of guys."
Notes: Madden played with a large gash under his left eye that needed 20 stitches to close in the first period, apparently caused by Adam Oates' skate. Oates was trying to push away from Scott Niedermayer when his skate caught Madden in the face. Madden played with a visor after returning. ... Teams winning Game 5 have taken 13 of the 17 finals that were tied after four games. ... New Jersey scored twice on the power play after going 1-for-12 in the first four games. ... This is the first time since 1978 the home team has won the first five games. Only in 1965 and 1955 did the home team win each game of a seven-game series. ... The Devils have won their last 28 playoff games when leading after two periods.