Work in Sports
EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- The New Jersey Devils got a couple of seconds and a few firsts to win the third game of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
After splitting a pair of nail-biters on the road, the Devils coasted to a 5-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs behind a pair of power-play goals and a shorthanded tally.
Martin Brodeur nearly became the second goaltender in as many nights to record consecutive shutouts. After a 1-0 win in Game Two, he extended his scoreless streak to 134 minutes, 25 seconds before yielding a shorthanded goal to Kevyn Adams late in the third period.
"I'd rather win games like this, 5-1, than 1-0," said Brodeur, who has allowed only six goals in the last six games. "Shutouts are nice, but I'm not here for personal stats. I don't think anyone here is looking for that. It's winning, that's what counts."
The Maple Leafs had not scored since Darcy Tucker's goal with 18:42 left in the third period of Game One. They will try to even the best-of-seven series on Wednesday in New Jersey.
"It's frustrating, but at the same time, we've talked about it," Adams said. "You can't let him (Brodeur) do that to you. You just have to keep believing in yourself, that the next time you'll get one by him."
Curtis Joseph matched Brodeur for nearly half the game before New Jersey erupted for three goals in an eight-minute stretch of the second period.
Jason Arnott broke the deadlock at 9:42 with the series' first power-play goal. Just 37 seconds after Toronto rookie Adam Mair received a double-minor for high-sticking Ken Daneyko, Arnott took a cross-ice pass from Bobby Holik and fired a low blast from the top of the left faceoff circle by Joseph's glove. It was his first postseason goal.
"I think the game was kind of waiting for that first goal," Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin said. "They got it and they really feed off that and played better. After they got the lead, we let them carry the game."
Teammate Garry Valk agreed, saying, "We had that four-minute kill and we couldn't kill it. Next thing you know, it's 3-0."
Scott Gomez made it 2-0 at 15:03 with his second playoff goal. A loose puck squirted to him at the top of the right circle and Gomez -- a favorite to win the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie -- moved to the slot before putting a wrist shot inside the right goalpost.
It marked the first time in the series that either team led by more than one goal. Toronto took the opener, 2-1.
"It was a big goal in a key situation," Gomez said. "The opportunity was right there and I finally put it away. I was getting opportunities and to finally get one in was good."
The Devils built a 3-0 cushion 2 1/2 minutes later on their second shorthanded goal of the playoffs. Patrik Elias stole the puck from Sergei Berezin at the Maple Leafs' blue line, moved around Igor Korolev and carried to the net. Forced wide by Joseph, Elias skated behind the goal and scored on a wraparound at the left goalpost.
"I stayed patient at the blue line and they gave me the puck," Elias said. "I tried to make Cujo slide out of the net, but I had to go around. Nobody was there to check me, so I had the wraparound."
New Jersey poured it on, twice padding its lead before the Maple Leafs got their first shot of the third period.
Petr Sykora was at the top of the crease when he redirected Elias' centering pass at 4:27 for his third playoff goal. Less than two minutes later, on the power play, Alexander Mogilny put a rebound into a half-empty net after Joseph made a stick save on Claude Lemieux's drive from the right side.
The Devils were 2-for-8 on the power play after going 0-for-5 in the first two games of the series. They outshot Toronto in the third period, 14-2, and held the Leafs to 12 shots over the final 40 minutes after allowing 11 in the first period.
"We had our worst game of the playoffs, no doubt about that," Sundin said. "Except Cujo, every one of us had a bad game. It's as simple as that.
"We've been in the same situation with Pittsburgh and Philly last year, when we came back. The strength of this team is that we bounce back when we have a bad effort, a bad game."
The opening period was played at the Maple Leafs' pace as the teams combined for 25 shots. Toronto had totaled 13 in the final two periods of Game Two.
With the Devils sloppy in their own zone, Brodeur negated turnovers by defensemen Vladimir Malakhov and rookie Colin White with point-blank stops on Berezin and Korolev.
Dmitri Khristich had a great chance to score the Maple Leafs' initial first-period goal of the playoffs after a defensive breakdown sent him in 2-on-none with Wendel Clark. But Brodeur slid and stacked his pads with just under two minutes remaining.
"We played more into their hands than we wanted to," Holik said of the first period. "But we have a good coaching staff who reminded us we were not going to beat them that way. We heard what they said and it showed."
Joseph's best saves of the period came during a power-play scramble with 8 1/2 minutes to go as he stopped Holik twice and Steve Kelly once.