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New Jersey 2, Boston 1
Posted: Thursday April 10, 2003 11:50 AM
Boston Bruins
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New Jersey Devils
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EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- No one is better than the New Jersey Devils at making the most of the least.

Jamie Langenbrunner scored both goals and Martin Brodeur made them stand with 26 saves as the Devils held on for a 2-1 victory over the Boston Bruins in the opening game of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.

During the regular season, New Jersey recorded a league-leading 16 wins when scoring two goals or fewer. The Atlantic Division champions did not miss a beat in their playoff opener.

"We're used to playing tight games, we've been playing them all year and we've prepared for it in the playoffs," said Brodeur, who had a 2.02 goals-against average during the season. "We definitely played a solid game and we got the first goal, which is always nice."

Langenbrunner gave the Devils a 1-0 lead with 4:25 left in the first period, then doubled it midway through the second. Seven of his 17 career playoff goals have been game-winners.

"I was in the right place at the right time," said Langenbrunner, who had just one assist in last year's first-round loss to Carolina. "On the first goal, I was following the puck and on the second one, it happened to come to me."

Brodeur lost his shutout bid 3 1/2 minutes into the third period on defenseman Bryan Berard's first postseason goal since 1999. But he stopped eight shots over the final 20 minutes, enabling New Jersey to maintain home-ice advantage in the best-of-seven series.

"You work all year to get home-ice," Brodeur said. "We're not out of the woods yet because they will try to sneak out of here with a game. But momentum-wise and confidence-wise, the way the playoffs went last year, it is certainly nice to get the first one."

Brodeur stopped Jozef Stumpel cutting off the left wing with 8:35 remaining and got his blocker on a blast from the top of the right faceoff circle by Glen Murray just over a minute later.

"I think we had enough (chances)," Boston coach Mike O'Connell said. "Of course, you'd always like to generate more. We have to get the puck in front of the net as much as possible."

Game Two is in New Jersey on Friday.

The game started ominously for the Devils as center Scott Gomez collided with teammate Grant Marshall early in the first period and suffered a neck injury that limited him to three shifts. Devils coach Pat Burns said he was not concerned with Gomez's status, adding, "He'll be all right."

Linemate Joe Nieuwendyk also was in the locker room with a bloody nose when Langenbrunner opened the scoring. Jeff Friesen went around defenseman Nick Boynton on the right side, cut to the net and had his stuff attempt stopped by goaltender Steve Shields, but Langenbrunner jammed in the rebound.

"We all know how to play different positions and that comes in big right now," Langenbrunner said. "It's part of the game. Those things are going to happen in the playoffs."

Both teams had solid scoring chances in a two-minute stretch of the second period.

Shields got the tip of his skate on a point-blank backhander by John Madden with 10:52 left and Brodeur sprawled to stop Murray seconds later. With 8:47 to go, Rob Zamuner wristed a shot from low in the right circle off the right goalpost.

Just 25 seconds later, Langenbrunner made it 2-0. Boston's Michal Grosek made an inexplicable clearing attempt from along the right boards that went right to Langenbrunner. He drifted to the slot and put a wrist shot over Shields' left shoulder.

Brodeur made one more big save before the end of the period. Just after a Bruins' power play expired with 59 seconds left, he was caught flat-footed but managed to get a piece of Zamuner's deflection.

"He played well, and we know he is going to play well," former Devil Brian Rolston said of Brodeur.

Berard appeared offside when he crossed the Devils' blue line, but he surprised Brodeur with a wrister from the top of the slot near the left circle. It beat the goalie to the stick side and found room inside the left post.

Shields, a game-day pick to start over Jeff Hackett, stopped 26 shots in his first postseason appearance since 2000.

"If Steve also continues to play the way he did in goal, we'll be fine," Bruins captain Joe Thornton said.

 


 
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