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Devils use unlikely heroes to even series
Updated: Wednesday May 30, 2001 7:42 AM
DENVER (AP) -- New Jersey's "A" line was shut down again, but the "B" team came through to give the defending Stanley Cup champions a much-needed victory.
The Devils again didn't get any offense from top-line players Jason Arnott, Patrik Elias and Petr Sykora, but seldom-used Bob Corkum, and Turner Stevenson scored first-period goals against Patrick Roy to give New Jersey a 2-1 victory against the Colorado Avalanche in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals.
The best-of-seven series is tied 1-1 heading to New Jersey for Games 3 and 4.
"Your big players still get all the main ice time and they're going to get all the main minutes, but the little things are going to help," Stevenson said. "As long as everyone plays hard and plays the way we're capable of playing, that's what's going to win it."
Elias and Sykora, tied for the team lead with 18 playoff points each, had long point-scoring streaks (10 and nine games) snapped in New Jersey's 5-0 loss in Game 1. Their droughts continued, but it didn't matter as the Devils improved to 6-1 in Stanley Cup finals road games and avoided a deep hole in this series.
"It's not going to be one line or foot soldiers or anything like that, it's just playing the way we're capable of playing," Stevenson said.
Corkum, inserted into the lineup because right wing Randy McKay broke his left hand in Game 1, scored his first playoff goal since April 22, 1998, converting a breakaway to tie it at 1 at 14:29.
"I know we've still got a lot of hockey to play, but just to be a part and contribute in a Stanley Cup finals game is what I have been playing for for a long time," Corkum said.
The center played on a line with Bobby Holik and Sergei Nemchinov, a change from what head coach Larry Robinson said Monday. The plan was for Corkum to skate with Holik and Scott Gomez, but Robinson put Gomez with Alexander Mogilny and Sergei Brylin instead.
"When you dream happy dreams, you dream about scoring a goal," Corkum said. "The opportunity presented itself. It's one of those things. That's what playoffs are all about sometimes, guys step up that don't normally step up."
Stevenson, who had two assists in 17 playoff games this year, made it 2-1 just 2:51 later by scoring his first postseason goal since May 12, 1998. Scott Niedermayer's shot was knocked down, Stevenson found the puck and flipped it past Roy.
Corkum's goal snapped Roy's shutout streak in the Stanley Cup finals at 227 minutes, 41 seconds -- 1:41 shy of the record.
"Today was a lot nicer to get some goals on Patrick," goalie Martin Brodeur said. "I think you don't want to go too long with him not allowing any goals. It was important that we got to him early in the game."
It made for a special night for Corkum, who had never played past the second round in his 10-year NHL career.
Corkum, who called his chance to play "the opportunity of a lifetime" dedicated his efforts to Shawn Walsh, his former head coach at Maine who is battling lung cancer.
The 33-year-old Corkum, who has seven career playoff goals, was scratched from New Jersey's previous four games. He had one assist in six playoff games this year.
A lot was made Monday about Robinson's decision to shake up his line combinations, largely to compensate for McKay's loss. Instead of putting Corkum into McKay's spot alongside Holik and Brylin, he changed two of New Jersey's four lines.
Brodeur looked much better in Game 2 after being shelled for five goals on 30 shots in the opener. Colorado grabbed a 1-0 lead when Joe Sakic scored on the Avalanche's sixth shot of the first period at 5:58. Brodeur needed to stop only 14 shots in the last 54:02, but two came in the game's final minute.
The Devils rebounded from Game 1 when they were outshot for the
first time in these playoffs, to tie 20-20 -- even though they only
recorded two shots in the final period.