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Arnott wins Cup for friend

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Posted: Sunday June 11, 2000 04:17 AM

  Jason Arnott This one's for you: Jason Arnott kisses the Stanley Cup Trophy after his game-winning goal made it happen. AP

DALLAS (AP) -- Jason Arnott and Patrik Elias didn't just combine to win the Stanley Cup for the New Jersey Devils. They did it also for their fallen linemate, Petr Sykora.

Arnott took a pass from Elias and snapped a shot past Ed Belfour at 8:20 of the second overtime on Saturday night to give the Devils a 2-1 win over the Dallas Stars and their second Cup since 1995.

Having the two combine for the game winner was so appropriate because Sykora wasn't there to see it.

With 7:52 left in the first period, Sykora was crunched by Dallas defenseman Derian Hatcher after flipping a shot at Belfour, and he fell back to the ice on his back, his hands held out as if frozen.

Trainers and doctors immediately came out to attend him as players from both teams watched with concern.

Sykora was taken off the ice on a stretcher and taken to Baylor University Medical Center where a CT scan was negative. Sykora was held overnight for observation.

While he was being treated, the Devils went about the job of trying to wrest the Cup from the defending champions.

Arnott and Elias, who played with a variety of wings for the rest of the game, had a couple of chances to break the 1-1 tie, but the end came on somewhat on a broken play.

Scott Stevens, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as the MVP of the playoffs, sent the puck into the right corner. Elias retrieved it and sent a blind backhand pass across the goalmouth, a play the line has used all year.

The puck went right in front of Belfour and found Arnott all alone.

Arnott, who had been run out of Edmonton because of poor play and acquired by the Devils in January 1998, didn't hesitate to pop it past a defenseless Belfour, who was phenomenal the final two games of the series.

As the Cup was handed to the Devils, Elias had Sykora's jersey draped over his shoulders.

The goal capped a great playoffs for Arnott, who emerged as a budding star in the postseason. He and Elias led the Devils in scoring with 20 points apiece.

Arnott's goal came about 10 minutes after he nearly gave away the game by picking up a bad crosschecking penalty late in the first overtime.

"It wasn't a smart penalty, but he more than made up for it," ooach Larry Robinson said.

Arnott had eight goals and 12 assists while Elias had seven goals and 13 assists. Sykora, a resident of the Czech Republic like Elias, had nine goals and eight assists.

On Saturday night, they shared something else besides friendship: a Stanley Cup, the first for each.


 
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