Work in Sports
EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- Six shots won't get it done, especially in the playoffs against the New Jersey Devils.
New Jersey advanced to the Eastern Conference finals with a suffocating 3-0 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs, who set a record with just six shots in Game Six of the semifinal series.
"We didn't shoot the puck," Toronto coach Pat Quinn said. "It wasn't just in the series, it's an ongoing problem for our hockey club."
The Leafs had three shots in the first period, two in the second and one in the third for a post-expansion era (1967) low by any NHL team in the regular season or playoffs and a franchise record low since the statistic first was kept in 1955-56.
"You've got to give them credit. They played well defensively," Toronto enforcer Tie Domi said. "They gave us no space, we couldn't create any chances and we were more worried about coughing the puck over then getting our own chances."
"We didn't give them much tonight," Devils captain Scott Stevens said. "We played excellent postional hockey. Because of the positioning, we never gave them any shots. We blocked shots at times and did whatever it takes to win."
Toronto had just three quality scoring chances and missed the net on each one, allowing New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur to record the easiest of his eight career playoff shutouts.
The Devils also matched a franchise record for quickest goal in the playoffs at 18 seconds of the first period when Petr Sykora tallied his fourth of the postseason.
"Just to get that start, it was unbelievable," Devils rookie Scott Gomez said. "I don't know if it brought them down, but it brought us up. We just kept our game plan."
Sykora set up Jason Arnott 25 seconds into the second period and John Madden scored into an empty net with six seconds to play as New Jersey moved on to the conference finals for the first time since 1995, when it won the Stanley Cup.
"I think it's a great accomplishment, but we've got a long way to go," Devils left wing Patrik Elias said. "There's always another day. We just have to think about the next one and move on."
New Jersey will play either Philadelphia or Pittsburgh in the next round.
"We can't look too far ahead," Devils center Bobby Holik said. "We just have to get ready for the next game and the next series. Whether it's Philly or Pittsburgh, there's nothing in the win column."
Curtis Joseph stopped 23 shots for the Leafs, who went 0-for-2 on the power play and finished the series 0-for-20. They went the final nine games of the playoffs without a power-play goal.
Sergei Berezin had the Leafs' last quality scoring chance. But with 4:40 to play and Toronto shorthanded, he snapped a shot wide of the right goalpost from the left faceoff circle.
Midway through the third period, Leafs captain Mats Sundin was stationed in the low slot, where he tipped a shot wide of the net.
Darcy Tucker had a chance to tie it at 1-1 in the second, but his backhander from the slot sailed over the crossbar.
Toronto, which lost to Buffalo in the conference finals last year, failed to record more than 25 shots in any game in this series.
"When you get 20 or just over 20 shots on goal, you're not going to win any hockey games," said Sundin, Toronto's captain. "We played an awful hockey game."
The Leafs' previous record for fewest shots in a game was nine in a 4-0 victory over St. Louis on March 4, 1999, when they tied an NHL record low for a winning team. Their fewest in a playoff game was 13 in a 3-0 loss to Philadelphia on April 15, 1975.
New Jersey's fewest surrendered in the playoffs was 10 on April 9, 1990 in a 2-1 win at Washington.
Sykora gave the Devils all the offense they needed on the game's first shift when he picked up a loose puck in the low slot and ripped a shot past Joseph and inside the right post.
"When you go to the net, you've got to get chances," Sykora said. "It was just a great effort from our line. You want to make sure you start great because it makes it really easier."
Arnott made it 2-0 on the first shift of the second period.
Driving to the net from the left circle, he took Sykora's feed from behind the net and one-timed a shot through Joseph's pads.
"I lost sight of the first one -- I thought it was covered," Joseph said. "I didn't know that there was that much room. The second one was just a great pass."
Brodeur could have stayed on the bench in the third period and picked up the victory. Instead, he stopped Toronto's only shot to finish his second shutout of the series.
A Toronto player threw his stick at Madden in frustration as the rookie broke in alone to hit an empty net for his second goal of the playoffs.
The Devils took control of the series with a 4-3 victory in Game Five on Saturday night in Toronto after the teams split a pair of games at Continental Airlines Arena to level the series at two wins apiece.
Brodeur stopped 20 shots at the Air Canada Centre in a 1-0 victory on April 29 as New Jersey evened the series at 1-1.