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Anaheim 1, New Jersey 0
Posted: Tuesday June 03, 2003 01:29 AM
New Jersey Devils
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Anaheim Mighty Ducks
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ANAHEIM, California (Ticker) -- "Stumpy" is the latest overtime hero in the Magic Kingdom.

Steve Thomas scored 39 seconds into the extra period as the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim continued their magical overtime run and squared the Stanley Cup Finals at two wins apiece with a 1-0 blanking of the New Jersey Devils.

Martin Brodeur made a spectacular left pad stop on Samuel Pahlsson's shot from the doorstep, but the rebound came out to the edge of the right faceoff circle, where Thomas - a former Devil - put a wrister under the goaltender's glove.

"Marty made a great save, but I was coming towards the net, sniffing out a rebound," Thomas said. "Fortunately, it sat there and I took the shot and it luckily found its way in."

"I was able to make a save. When I tried to recover, it was kind of chaos in front of me," Brodeur said. "I didn't see the puck go through my defensemen, and it went in."

The third-quickest overtime goal in Stanley Cup Finals history boosted Anaheim to 7-0 in overtime in the postseason and a remarkable 12-1 in one-goal decisions. The 12 one-goal wins tie the NHL record established by the 1993 Montreal Canadiens, who also own the playoff mark with 10 overtime triumphs.

Coach Mike Babcock could not explain the Ducks' overtime dominance.

"Obviously, we really believe," he said. "We have been in a lot of them all year long. We're pretty comfortable in that situation. 'Stump' always tells the guys, 'I say this is your time, let's get her done in a hurry.'" It was the third playoff goal and first point in eight games for Thomas, who has scored an NHL-record 13 regular-season overtime winners. The 19-year veteran is making his first Stanley Cup Finals appearance.

"Personally, euphoria," Thomas said. "When you have an opportunity to score an overtime goal like that, to win a hockey game for your team, that's the ultimate."

Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 26 saves for his fifth postseason blanking, extending his playoff-record overtime shutout streak to 168 minutes, 27 seconds.

"There is no better way for me to get better as a player than being in overtime," Giguere said. "It doesn't get any better than that. It's exciting to be in those situations."

Brodeur stopped 25 shots but could not prevent the Devils from suffering consecutive losses for the second time in this year's playoffs.

Asked if the Ducks have grabbed the momentum, Brodeur said, "Definitely. I think they feel pretty good about themselves. We just blew a 2-0 lead. We'll regroup. I think these two days will be to our benefit, to relax. ... We've got to get back to the East Coast and rest and get ready."

Game Five is Thursday in New Jersey, where the Devils are 10-1 in the postseason. The Ducks raised their home record to 8-1.

"We're still holding the home-ice advantage right now, so we'll go back there and put our 10-1 record on the line," New Jersey center John Madden said.

There were few scoring chances in a cautious third period. One of the best came with 15:33 remaining when a dump-in by Game Three hero Ruslan Salei took an awkward bounce off the right boards and slid toward Brodeur.

Beaten by a one-in-a-million carom in Saturday's loss, Brodeur had the puck go off his glove but gathered it with his stick just before it could cross the goal line.

"It's such a bad rink for bad bounces, with the ice and the boards and the glass," Brodeur said. "You figure when it's going to go around the board, it's going to stay on the board. But I was in good position. When I went to grab it, it bounced on me, hit the top of my glove, went back and I was in control."

Less than four minutes later, Brodeur denied Mike Leclerc on a quick shot from the bottom of the left circle.

The second period was more wide-open.

Rookie Stanislav Chistov tested Brodeur with a wrist shot from the slot, but New Jersey's Patrik Elias won a faceoff less than a minute later and flicked a shot off the left goalpost.

Three minutes later, Chistov's wrister from the high slot hit the right elbow where the post and crossbar meet.

The Devils nearly grabbed the lead on their third power play, but Giguere squeezed his pads to stop Brian Gionta's redirection of Sergei Brylin's pass off the left side with just under 10 minutes to go.

A minute later, New Jersey's Brian Rafalski lost a dump-in by fellow defenseman Niclas Havelid in his skates, allowing Adam Oates to wrist a shot off the base of the left post.

Giguere stopped another deflection with 2:46 left, smothering John Madden's tip of defenseman Scott Niedermayer's one-timer from just inside the blue line.

Madden broke in alone on the left side, but Giguere caught his slap shot in his chest just before the final buzzer.

"I was being hooked. I was really shooting five-hole, trying to surprise him with a quick shot," Madden said. "If he stopped it, there'd be a rebound, and there was. But it bounced right past me."

"We needed a great performance from Jiggy and he was outstanding for us," Anaheim center Steve Rucchin said. "They're always going to get some great chances, but we know we've got Jiggy back there and that he's going to stop 95 percent of the shots."

As they did in Game Three, the Devils wasted two power-play chances in the fourth straight scoreless first period.

Giguere stopped Elias and Scott Gomez after rookie defenseman Kurt Sauer was penalized for interference at 5:54, but that advantage was cut short by a holding penalty on Niedermayer.

New Jersey had the first good scoring chance when a pass from Gomez sent Elias in on a partial breakaway with 8:37 to go. But Elias fired the puck over the net.

"The puck was rolling right away on me," Elias said. "The ice wasn't really good today. I wanted to shoot it there, I just got it a little too high."

The Devils again came up empty on the power play after Dan Bylsma shoved Brodeur from behind with 3:14 remaining and was penalized for goalie interference.

 


 
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