Work in Sports
Stanley Cup Notebook
Madden at his best when Devils are short
Posted: Tuesday June 06, 2000 01:50 AM
DALLAS (AP) -- Mr. Short-handed did it again.
Rookie John Madden, who scored an NHL-best six times with the Devils down a man in the regular season, got the game-winning goal Monday night. New Jersey, which won 3-1, leads the best-of-seven finals 3-1 with a chance to win the Stanley Cup on Thursday.
Madden, a top penalty-killer, scored 4:51 into the third with Colin White in the penalty box, to snap a 1-1 tie.
"I have watched a lot of power plays and I find they all do the same thing," said Madden, who holds the NCAA record with 23 short-handed goals for Michigan. "The biggest key is to try and force them, don't let them get too much time."
Madden was an undrafted free agent who signed with the Devils in 1997. He nearly was knocked out the playoffs when he injured his knee against Philadelphia in the conference finals.
"I owe a lot to them for finding me," the 25-year-old forward said of the Devils. "I guess I owe thanks to Brendan Morrison, who was a player at the University of Michigan which Jersey came out a lot and watched him play.
"I got a little notoriety through him."
Since the best-of-seven format began in 1939, 24 of the 25 teams that took a 3-1 lead won the Stanley Cup. The only club to rally and win from that deficit was the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs against Detroit. The Leafs actually trailed 3-0.
The Devils rallied from 3-1 down to beat Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference finals, so they know firsthand that nothing has been won yet.
"It's a long way, this is the hardest one to get," said goalie Martin Brodeur, who made 16 saves. "We have three shots at it and hopefully we'll get it as soon as we can."
Just like everyone thought, all Joe Nieuwendyk needed to get back on the score sheet was his trusty linemate Jamie Langenbrunner.
The Dallas Stars forward missed five games with a knee injury and Nieuwendyk, last year's playoff MVP, didn't score a point and registered only three shots in his absence.
That changed Monday night, but it wasn't enough for the Stars as they lost Game 4 to the New Jersey Devils 3-1 to move within one loss of elimination.
Just having Langenbrunner in uniform must have inspired Nieuwendyk, because his goal came on the power play when Langenbrunner wasn't even on the ice.
"It took a few shifts," Langenbrunner said of the time it took him to get comfortable on the ice. "We think we had some good stuff going and Joe had that great goal."
That goal gave the Stars a 1-0 lead late in the second period.
It all evaporated early in the third as the Devils scored three times in the first 6:08 -- the goals coming 3:41 apart.
"It's disappointing because we played a great two periods," Langenbrunner said. "We just kind of fell apart there. We have to play 60 minutes every night to have a chance to win."
The Stars were 7-0 in the playoffs when Nieuwendyk had a point and 5-0 when he scored a goal.
Streaks no more
Not only did Dallas' loss put them on the brink of elimination, it wrecked some streaks in the process.
The Stars and goalie Ed Belfour had won nine straight after playoff defeats and the club was 11-0 when leading after two periods.
"We are down 3-1, obviously the momentum is on their side," Dallas coach Ken Hitchcock said. "I think for whatever reason, if we can play 60 minutes like we played the first 40, we give ourselves a real opportunity. I thought the first 40 minutes we played were outstanding."
And the ultimate kicker ... singer BJ Thomas, the Stars' good-luck National Anthem singer, suffered his first loss after building a 9-0 record.
Larry Robinson took over a struggling, underachieving team with just a handful of games left in the regular season.
He now has the New Jersey Devils just a win away from the Stanley Cup.
"Life is full of ups and downs," said Robinson, who replaced the fired Robbie Ftorek with just eight games remaining. "I just try not to get too high with the wins or too low with the losses."
If the Devils can finish off the Dallas Stars, they will most assuredly look back to Robinson's leadership as a key to getting them a title.
Robinson twice in the playoffs reacted harshly and angrily following losses and New Jersey responded with wins. That couldn't have happened with Ftorek, as his voice had long been tuned out by the time he was released.
Coffee with Jere
Jere Lehtinen might be the unsung MVP of the Dallas Stars. At least Ken Hitchcock thinks so.
"We use Lehtinen as a catalyst," the Dallas coach said. "When anybody is not going well, we just put him with Lehtinen. If I am having a bad day, Lehtinen comes for coffee with me."
Lehtinen has been playing with Mike Modano and Brett Hull on the extremely productive top line.
The winner of the last two Selke Trophies as the NHL's top defensive forward, Lehtinen has returned strongly from injury woes. Despite missing 65 games this season and the first 10 in the playoffs, Lehtinen has been a force at both ends of the ice, contributing a goal and four assists.
A compelling conclusion to all NHL playoff series is the handshake lineup right after the final buzzer. After grueling, physical battles, the teams get in line to shake hands and offer best wishes.
"I have always thought it is a great tradition," said three-time Stanley Cup winner Claude Lemieux. "I think playing the game that we do, and as mean as everyone has to be to one another to be successful, you must keep that tradition involved in the game."
If the Devils win, Lemieux would become the first player to win a Stanley Cup with a team, get traded to another club and win there, only to return to the first team to win again.
Lemieux was with the Devils when they captured their first Cup in 1995 and moved on to Colorado and won a year later. He was also a champion with Montreal in 1986.