Work in Sports
Madden, Rafalski lift Devils to 3-1 lead
Posted: Tuesday June 06, 2000 07:17 PM
By Chris Stevenson, SLAM! Sports
DALLAS -- John Madden skated back to the New Jersey Devils bench shaking his head early in the third period of turning point Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final Monday night.
Less than a minute later, he left the Dallas Stars hanging theirs.
Madden was in the middle of a third-period blitz by the Devils which has now drawn them to within one victory of the franchise's second Stanley Cup. Madden's short-handed goal devastated the Stars and proved to be the winner as the Devils came from behind for a 3-1 win and a three-games-to-one lead in the final.
Madden ripped a shot by Dallas goaltender Ed Belfour on his second great short-handed opportunity during a penalty to teammate Colin White. After firing wide on a similar chance seconds earlier, he had skated to the bench shaking his head, wondering when he would get another opportunity.
He didn't have to wait long.
"I was thinking, 'Oh, my God, this is the exact same shot,'" he said of his second chance, again on a 2-on-1 after a great play by New Jersey defencemen Ken Daneyko to beat pinching Stars defender Sylvain Cote to the puck.
"I said if I miss this one, they're going to have put me on a suicide watch."
He didn't and now the Stars are one loss away from seeing their dream of defending their cup championship die a quick death.
Madden's goal, at 4:51 of the third, was sandwiched by goals by Sergei Brylin on a rebound at 2:27 and Brian Rafalski at 6:08 as he jumped on a turnover by Dallas' Guy Carbonneau and put one through Belfour's legs as the Devils overcame a 1-0 Dallas lead.
A win Thursday night at the Continental Airlines Arena by the Devils means they can get the parking lot ready for a replay of the club's 1995 celebration.
The Devils will be wary of the Stars since they themselves came back from a 3-1 deficit in the Eastern Conference final against the Philadelphia Flyers.
"We got our heart ripped out from us a little bit today," said Stars coach Ken Hitchcock. "We went from quite a high to quite a low...you go from such a level of confidence and than all of a sudden, boom, you get hit so hard. That's the story of their team. They have done it all playoffs. They have that ability to be quick-strike."
Three goals in 3:41 demolished the form chart for the Stars. They had been 11-0 in the playoffs when leading after two periods and 9-0 in games following post-season losses over the last two springs.
The Stars had lost every Game 3 this year and won every Game 4 in their three previous series.
All that went out the window as the Stars looked slow, tired and completely unable to keep up with the Devils to start the third.
They completely fell apart in a situation where they should have taken control.
The story of the game was the second-tier scoring the Devils got in the absence of any offence from their big line of Jason Arnott, Petr Sykora and Patrik Elias, who had powered their wins in Games 1 and 3. Hitchcock put his checking line centred by Guy Carbonneau out against Arnott's with good success and then Arnott was force to leave the game in the third when he took a dirty shot to the head from Dallas defenceman Derian Hatcher. Arnott's expected to be okay for Game 5.
The Stars' big line of Mike Modano, Brett Hull and Jere Lehtinen was shutdown by rookie Scott Gomez and linemates Sergei Brylin and Alexander Mogilny.
The stars did get a goal by Joe Nieuwendyk, who had been singled out for his share of blame for the Stars deficit in the series going into Monday night's game, as he scored his first in six games.
But nobody else stepped up.
"They just seemed to be able to get the right goals at the right time," said Hitchcock. "They got goals from people today who really haven't scored in the series. We haven't been able to get that second wave of scoring. I don't think you are going to win many games against this team scoring one goal."
Modano looked stunned.
Only once has a team been down 3-1 in a best-of-seven Stanley Cup final and come back to win.
That was the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs against the Detroit Red Wings.
"We really don't know what happened," said Modano. "I think we felt we played a great 40 minutes and put ourselves in a great position to win the game. Again, I think we're doing things to hurt ourselves in the end, our decisions with and without the puck, getting caught on pinches, allowing too many outnumbered situations.
"Now our backs are up against the wall again. It is possible. It's been done before."
But only once.