Work in Sports
DALLAS (Ticker) -- They just couldn't wait to get on the road again.
The New Jersey Devils captured their second Stanley Cup in six years as Jason Arnott atoned for an earlier penalty by scoring 8:20 into double overtime of Game Six for a 2-1 victory over the defending champion Dallas Stars.
Patrik Elias threw a backhanded pass out of the right corner to Arnott, who was all alone in front of goaltender Ed Belfour. The former first-round draft pick, who was knocked senseless in Game Four, chipped the puck over Belfour for his fourth goal of the series and the biggest of his career.
"Never in my life, never, ever in my life," Arnott said. "I still can't believe it. I'm going to have to get the tape of it and watch it over and over and over again.
"It is something that I will never forget. I don't know how it happened, I don't know how Patty got the puck, but he made a tremendous pass and I had to roof it in order to beat Eddie Belfour. That is the only way we were going to beat him. After that, everything was just a big blur."
The goal quieted Reunion Arena and set off a joyous celebration by the Devils, who tied their own postseason record with their 10th road win of this year's playoffs and record-tying third in this series. They also won 10 times away from home when they captured their first Stanley Cup in 1995.
"This one you savor a lot more because of the problems we've had in the playoffs. But we were able to erase that," said Martin Brodeur, who made 30 saves to outduel Belfour. "We went from being really high at one point to really low and back to high again."
Scott Stevens, who picked up the secondary assist on the Cup-winning goal, became the sixth defenseman to capture the Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player of the playoffs.
"It's an honor, something I'll always remember. And to do it at age 36 makes it even more special because you don't take anything for granted," he said. "The bottom line is the Stanley Cup. There's nothing more rewarding that winning the Stanley Cup."
Among the names Stevens noticed on the Conn Smythe Trophy was that of his coach, Larry Robinson, who replaced the fired Robbie Ftorek with eight games left in the regular season and helped the Devils put behind them three years of postseason disappointments.
Robinson's rousing speech after Game Four of the Eastern Conference finals has been credited for helping New Jersey become the first team to rally from a three games to one deficit in the Stanley Cup semifinals.
"Sometimes you don't know what it takes to win. And sometimes you start to doubt yourself," Robinson said. "The easiest thing is to go back to old habits. We kind of went back to them a little bit, but we were able to regain ourselves. And that Philadelphia series was a huge stepping stone for us. I think that is why we were a little more prepared when we (played) against Dallas."
After a heartbreaking triple-overtime loss at home on Thursday, New Jersey ended a seven-game OT losing streak. The Devils became the second straight team to win the Cup in overtime, duplicating the feat of the Stars, who are the first defending champions to lose in the Finals since the 1984 New York Islanders.
"I think I am probably more proud of our team this year than I even was last year," Dallas coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Yes, we won last year, but this team went through so much and at the end was within an eyelash of bringing this thing back for Game Seven."
"We played with a lot of heart," added Belfour, who stopped 43 shots. "Our team played together offensively and defensively. And we worked very hard and we know we gave our best. But it's very disappointing that we came up on the short end."
The Stanley Cup becomes a going-away gift for Devils owner John McMullen, who has agreed to sell the team to the consortium that owns baseball's New York Yankees and basketball's New Jersey Nets.
"I am very, very, very happy for Dr. McMullen, who is leaving on a high note, and very deservedly so," Robinson said. "He is just a great owner, and I couldn't work for a better man than (general manager) Lou Lamoriello, who basically had the confidence in me that I could come here and do that job."
In a complete reversal of the third period, the Devils held Dallas without a shot for first 16 minutes of the first overtime period. But the Stars had their chances.
Joe Nieuwendyk stickhandled in front before pulling a backhander wide of the left goalpost with 17:15 to go. Mike Keane put a rebound off the outside of the net midway through the first extra period and Sylvain Cote was on the doorstep when he couldn't handle Mike Modano's centering pass with seven minutes remaining.
New Jersey had more jump from the start of overtime. Belfour stopped Sergei Brylin less than two minutes in and Arnott's wrist shot from the right faceoff circle deflected wide of the right post less than a minute later.
Belfour had to be alert to get his glove on rookie Scott Gomez's dipping sweep off the left boards with five minutes to go, then got his left skate on Alexander Mogilny's wrister from the left side.
Rookie Brenden Morrow finally got the Stars' only shot of the extra period with 3:58 remaining, but Brodeur got his left shoulder on it and lunged to clear the rebound with Modano in front.
A senseless cross-checking penalty on Arnott gave Dallas a power play with 1:17 to go in OT.
"I didn't think it was a penalty, and to call it in overtime, it was frustrating," he said. "When you've got so much on the line it is tough to deal with, and I didn't want to be the guy to lose this thing for us. But the guys pulled through, and I just felt I had to go out and do something for taking that penalty."
The teams headed inexorably to overtime after Dallas dominated the third period. The Stars held New Jersey to two shots over the first 10 1/2 minutes and threatened on chances by Scott Thornton and Nieuwendyk.
Belfour trapped a quick wrist shot by Elias with just over 14 minutes to play and appeared to get a piece of a shot by Sergei Nemchinov, who took a pass from Bobby Holik and skated in ahead of the defense on the left side with 5:42 remaining.
New Jersey had three quick chances with just under four minutes to play. Belfour used his blocker to stop Elias' wrister from the high slot, turned aside Mogilny's shot from the right circle and stopped Claude Lemieux's snapper from the top of the slot.
Brett Hull's tricky wrister off a faceoff in the right circle was the last chance in regulation with 27 seconds left.
The Devils struck first at 5:18 of the second period, ending a scoring drought of 145 minutes, 31 seconds on Niedermayer's fifth playoff goal.
With defenseman Brian Rafalski serving a holding penalty, Lemieux got the puck past Cote at the Devils blue line. Lemieux eventually fed Niedermayer, who skated down the slot, shifted from his backhand and flipped a shot the hit Belfour's right arm and trickled just inside the right post.
It was New Jersey's second shorthanded goal of the series and gave the Devils a lead that lasted only 69 seconds.
Keane tied it at 6:27, taking a cross-ice pass from Thornton and wristing a shot from the right faceoff circle that sailed over Brodeur's glove and into the top right corner of the net.
Keane's second playoff goal was his first since Dallas' postseason opener against Edmonton in the Western Conference quarterfinals, a span of nearly two months.
The Stars had a flurry of chances with seven minutes to go in the period. Blake Sloan's wrister from the right circle dribbled in on Brodeur, who stopped Hull's one-timer from the high slot seconds later. Modano, the Game Five hero, worked a give-and-go but was stopped by Brodeur as he burst down the slot with 6:13 left.
New Jersey nearly grabbed the lead 90 seconds later, but Elias' wrist shot from the slot hit the crossbar and the teams were tied after two periods for the third time in the series.
A scoreless first period was marred by Petr Sykora's injury.
Sykora was skating across the Dallas blue line with 7:52 left when he took an apparent elbow to the head from 230-pound defenseman Derian Hatcher, who left his feet to deliver the hit. The 190-pound Sykora crumpled to the ice and remained motionless for several minutes while he was tended to by trainers from both teams.
Members of both teams looked on as Sykora's head and neck were immobilized. He was conscious when he was placed on a stretcher and hurried onto a waiting ambulance. A CAT scan was negative, but he will remain hospitalized overnight for precautionary reasons.
During the postgame celebration, Elias wore his linemate's jersey, and the team planned to take the Cup to Sykora's hospital room.
"I was worried at that moment, but I'm glad that Petr's OK. As soon as we're out of here, I'm going to go see him," Elias said. "We wanted to really win this game. We were determined. It feels great, especially with what happened to Petr."
Fans at Reunion Arena initially cheered Hatcher's hit after two members of the Stars -- defenseman Darryl Sydor and Nieuwendyk -- were injured earlier in the period. Sydor suffered a left ankle sprain after he got tangled with Gomez and fell awkwardly against the boards. Nieuwendyk did not miss a shift after he was dumped by Arnott.
Despite yielding two power plays, the Devils had a 11-7 edge in shots and the better scoring chances.
Belfour got a piece of Brylin's shot from the slot just over three minutes into the game and Sydor went down seconds later. Nieuwendyk was shaken up before the contest was four minutes old.
Seconds after play resumed following Sykora's injury, Belfour stopped Elias from close range. He denied him again on a deflection as the period wound down.