Work in Sports
TORONTO (Ticker) -- Rookie Colin White is the latest hero on the New Jersey Devils' defense.
White scored his first career playoff goal in the first period and Martin Brodeur made it stand up with 20 saves as the Devils claimed home-ice advantage in their Eastern Conference semifinal series with a 1-0 blanking of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Defensemen have scored the winning goal in each of New Jersey's last four playoff victories. White added his name to the list 6:41 into the game when his snap shot from the right point beat goaltender Curtis Joseph, who was screened by teammate Danny Markov and Devils left wing Patrik Elias.
"I was just trying to hit the net and we had a bunch of screens in front," White said. "A lane opened and I saw the top of the net was open. And as it was going, I could see it was going to go in."
Joseph said he never saw the puck, which sailed past his right arm.
White played only 21 games during the regular season but one of his two goals was a game-winner.
"It was a huge goal," he said. "I'm happy we got the game and now I can sit back and laugh about it. I come from a small town (New Glasgow, Nova Scotia) so I'm sure the boys from back home are pretty pumped right now."
Brodeur recorded his seventh career playoff shutout. Although he faced only five shots in the third period, he came up with a key stop on Sergei Berezin with 17 1/2 minutes remaining and denied Wendel Clark from point-blank range 10 minutes later.
New Jersey hosts the next two games on Monday and Wednesday.
"I think we gained the home-ice advantage that maybe we should have got with more points in the regular season," Brodeur said.
"Now we're going to New Jersey with the momentum and feeling good about ourselves. It's going to be a battle. I don't expect this to be a short series."
Playing on his 33rd birthday, Joseph was perfect after allowing White's goal. But he could not prevent Toronto from suffering its first home loss of the postseason.
"He gave us a chance," Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn said of his goalie. "We weren't able to do anything. We've got to be better in front of him. We probably had one line playing today, and they kept us in our end for long periods of time."
The Devils kept Toronto pinned its own end for most of the second half of a four-minute power play midway through the third period. Jason Arnott was penalized for high-sticking Garry Valk, but Brodeur helped keep the Leafs at bay with his superior puckhandling ability.
"He's exceptional with the puck, we're aware of that," Toronto defenseman Cory Cross said. "We just have to be a little smarter with the dump-ins and try to keep the puck away from him as much as possible. He moves the puck as good as any defenseman in this league."
"They scored one goal, that shouldn't be enough against us," Leafs captain Mats Sundin added. "Curtis played great again and gave us a chance to win. Our power play again ... if we get one or two goals on the power play, we probably win."
The Devils had a chance to open a 2-0 lead with 7 1/2 minutes left in the first period, but Joseph made a right shoulder save on Elias at the end of a 2-on-1 and got his right pad on the rebound off a scramble.
Brodeur was hardly tested in the opening period but made a key stop in the second when he foiled former teammate Steve Thomas from the right side during a power play. Just over a minute later, Toronto rookie Kevyn Adams put a deflection off the left goalpost and was stopped by Brodeur on the rebound.
"I think the big difference in this series has been goaltending," said Devils coach Larry Robinson. "You can look at it and say that there were low-scoring games, but if it wasn't for the goaltenders it would have been a bit different.
Martin came up huge for us, especially in the double-minor late in the game."
Brodeur also got help from his defense, which kept the Maple Leafs away from most rebounds.