Work in Sports
30 seconds that changed the game
Posted: Wednesday May 31, 2000 09:18 PM
By Jamie MacDonald, CNNSI.com
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Thirty seconds. In a little more time than it will take you to read to the end of this paragraph, the New Jersey Devils put an end to the Dallas Stars in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals.
We pick this story up two seconds before the 10-minute mark of the second period -- just about the very midpoint of this hockey game when it was still very much a game -- with Devils leading 2-1 and Mike Modano picking up speed at the red line. A few seconds later, say 10:06, the sturdy centerman had already spun by a backchecking Jay Pandolfo and was taking dead aim from the left sideboards just inside the blue line.
Modano shook off rookie defenseman Brian Rafalski and fired a slap shot toward Martin Brodeur.
Brodeur made the save but, as was the case in both creases Tuesday night, the goaltender wasn't very careful with his rebound, which squirted in the direction of a net-crashing Brett Hull. Brodeur held his ground to stop Hull, ignite the Continental Airlines crowd and preserve the one-goal advantage.
"The first shot by Modano was kind of a knuckleball," said Devils defenseman Scott Stevens. "Then there is a rebound. [Brodeur] made a rebound save. It was huge for us."
That one-goal advantage, though, would soon become a two-goal advantage. By 10:15, New Jersey's Patrik Elias was streaking into the Dallas zone -- nearly uncontested but too fast to give himself a decent shot. So he did what any gifted offensive player does. He created his own space and time.
By beginning to circle behind the net, Elias drew Dallas defenders from the right of Ed Belfour to the left. At, say 10:22, Elias, in the midst of his arc, fed the puck from his backhand to the side of the net. Linemate Petr Sykora was only too happy to pop the puck into the net at 10:28.
"You see a lot of that in hockey," Stevens said. "A few big saves and the other team comes down and answers back."
And the crowd answered the call as well. The goal set off five minutes of celebration in Continental Airlines Arena. It began first with hugs in the crowd, followed by flag-waving and the first "D-E-V-I-L-S" chant of the night. When Ozzy Osborne's "Crazy Train" blared over the P.A. system, we all should have seen that nearly inexplicable seven- goal deluge coming.
Mike Modano agreed, sort of. "It's 2-1, [Brodeur] makes a great save on Brett," Modano said after the game. "That [goal] would have made it 2-2. And from then, it just seemed like the whole bottom fell out."
In 30 seconds.