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Game 3 Analysis

Devils serve notice

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Posted: Sunday June 04, 2000 09:51 PM users break down Game 3

By Darren Eliot,

The New Jersey Devils are proving that they matchup extremely well against the Dallas Stars. They have been able to generate scoring chances both on the rush and on the forecheck. If not for the fabulous netminding of Ed Belfour, 2-1 could have easily been 5-1.

Eliot's 3 Stars
Martin Brodeur, Devils
Brodeur made timely saves all night long. His focus was outstanding, as he once again proved it is not always the number of stops that counts, but when those saves occur. He was at his best when it mattered most.  

Ed Belfour, Stars
Belfour has been the best Dallas Star player throughout the playoffs, as he was throughout the regular season. The 2-1 score flatters only Belfour; his teammates know that it wasn't that close.  

Brian Rafalski, Devils
Another solid all-around defensive performance for Rafalski, who chipped in offensively with an outstanding counter-attack pass in the neutral zone that surprised the Stars and sprung Jason Arnott for the Devils' first goal of the game. 

Early on though, the Devils were guilty of some undisciplined play, taking three minor penalties in succession in the first period -- a slash, a pick and a dirty hit.

The Stars capitalized on the first power-play opportunity, but failed to move ahead 2-0 on a 5-3 advantage after Claude Lemieux's crosscheck from behind sent Mike Modano sprawling into the boards. The Dallas offense let the Devils off the hook. The Devils dodged the disastrous big inning much like a pitcher in the early going who doesn't have his best stuff, but settles down the second time through the lineup.

The Dallas defense uncharacteristically aided the Devils' in their comeback. Derian Hatcher was lackadaisical late in the first period, more concerned about a stick laying on the ice than Jason Arnott busting down the middle of the ice, bearing down on the Dallas cage. Hatcher's momentary loss of focus put him one stride to the outside, just enough for Arnott to barge his way to the crease. Belfour attempted an ill-advised straight-on pokecheck and just like that, the Stars had handed back their early advantage.

In the second period it was all Devils, as they seemed energized by emerging even after twenty minutes, while the Stars seemed to sag. The Devils dominated the second stanza, finally taking the Dallas dare and firing from long range on the powerplay. The Stars were content to play off the point men, inviting them to fire away. The Devils morphed into an umbrella set up with Petr Sykora in the middle of the ice. His 40-foot one-time blast found the back of the net. It proved to be the game-winning goal, serving as a definitive response to the penalty-killing challenge of the Stars and symbolic of the challengers retort to the defending champs.

The Devils served notice -- they are here to compete.

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