Maple Leafs still runnin' with the Devils

Toronto pushes New Jersey one game from elimination; Sabres slip past Penguins

Posted: Sunday, May 06, 2001

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- This time Martin Brodeur got blindsided by the Toronto Maple Leafs, and now the defending champion New Jersey Devils are in danger of losing more than a player.

Lord Stanley's trophy is slipping from their grasp.

Tomas Kaberle's controversial goal with 29.4 seconds to play lifted the Maple Leafs past the Devils 3-2 Saturday night, pushing New Jersey to the brink of playoff elimination.

Game 6 will be played Monday night in Toronto. If a seventh game is necessary, it will be Wednesday at the Continental Airlines Arena.

''These guys have to close us,'' Brodeur said after the Devils fell behind 3-2 in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal. ''We have to come back, but the pressure is on them.''

The Maple Leafs got the lead in the series by overcoming the suspension of Tie Domi for a cheap-shot hit on Scott Niedermayer late in Game 4, and then getting a crucial no-call from referee Bill McCreary on Kaberle's first goal of the playoffs.

Kaberle's shot from the left faceoff circle went into the net seconds after Shayne Corson bowled over Brodeur in goal.

McCreary, who earlier in the game nullified a goal by Devils forward Patrik Elias because of goaltender interference against Jason Arnott, ruled Devils defenseman Colin White pushed Corson into Brodeur.

Brodeur argued the call with McCreary.

''It's not fun,'' Brodeur said. ''Hopefully, you want to be able to try to see the puck and try to stop the puck. Whatever reason, I was knocked down; it's frustrating when you don't get a chance to even see the pass or the puck coming at you.''

The last thing Brodeur saw was Darcy Tucker with the puck behind the net after taking a pass from Corson, who then drove to the net and crashed into the goaltender.

''I thought it should count right from the start,'' Corson said. ''I was just going to the net and Colin White cross-checked me into his own goalie. There's nothing I can do. I tried my best to stay out of the crease.''

White disputed that.

''I'm trying to play him off the side and he just kept going,'' White said. ''He didn't try to hold anything back, either. He just fell into Marty.''

Andy Van Hellemond, the NHL director of officiating, said White took Corson into the net.

''In releasing him, Corson's on one leg, goes over the goalie, and is going over the goalie at the same time the shot is taken and the puck goes into the net,'' Van Hellemond told a pool reporter.

The ruling will force the Devils to rally again if they want to repeat as champions. A year ago, they overcame a 3-1 deficit against Philadelphia in the conference final en route to winning their second Stanley Cup since 1995.

Sabres 3, Penguins 2, OT

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Stu Barnes capped Buffalo's three-goal comeback, rifling in a shot 8:34 into overtime Saturday, to give the Sabres a 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Sabres, who trailed the best-of-seven second-round series 2-0, are just one win away from the Eastern Conference finals. The Sabres, who became the first home team to win in the series, can eliminate the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

For Barnes it was his second consecutive game-winning goal. His 40-foot shot struck the crossbar behind Pittsburgh goalie Johan Hedberg, and dropped down into the goal.

J.P. Dumont outworked Pittsburgh defender Bob Boughner for a loose puck just inside the Pittsburgh zone, batting it back to Barnes, who was just crossing the blue line.

Without stopping, Barnes wound up and beat Hedberg just over the left shoulder. Barnes, who has four goals in these playoffs, also scored the winner in Buffalo's 5-2 victory in Game 4.

The Penguins, who squandered a 2-0 lead, blew a third-period lead for the first time in six chances.

After forcing overtime on a strange short-handed goal credited to Curtis Brown, the Sabres went on the attack in opening the extra period.

Donald Audette had two chances during a 13-second span, but Hedberg was up to the test. He stopped Audette on a wraparound attempt, and then made a sharp pad save on Audette's hard shot from the top of the right circle.

The Penguins, who limited the Sabres to 14 shots through two periods, appeared to have the game in hand before Buffalo tied it 8:44 into the third period.

Brown, attempting to cut to the net around Pittsburgh's Martin Straka, backhanded a weak pass into the middle. The puck glanced off the skate of Pittsburgh's Alexei Kovalev and toward the net, slowly slipping through Hedberg's legs.

The goalie first tried to stop the puck with his blocker but missed. Hedberg then reached out with his glove, accidentally punching the puck over the line.

The Penguins were coming off two discouraging home losses in which they were outscored by a combined 6-0 in the third period.

Pittsburgh, however, came out sharp on Saturday, building a 2-0 lead by the 2:36 mark of the second period.

Jaromir Jagr opened the scoring with a power-play goal 15 minutes in, one-timing Mario Lemieux's cross-ice pass.

Aleksey Morozov converted Darius Kasparaitis' rebound to make it 2-0.

After coming out flat in the first period, managing just four shots, the Sabres -- courtesy of four straight power-play chances -- finally found their legs in the second.

Chris Gratton, with his team-leading sixth of the playoffs but first of this series, cut the lead to 2-1 with a power-play goal midway through the second. Set up in the right circle, Gratton fired a low shot that deflected in off the skate of Pittsburgh's Ian Moran, who battled Buffalo's Steve Heinze in front of the net.

Jagr, who missed two games with a shoulder injury and looked rusty in his return in Game 4, had much more jump on Saturday.

Along with opening the scoring, Jagr showed some emotion -- wrestling Brown to the ground midway through the second period. Both received roughing penalties.

Notes: The Penguins made one lineup change, inserting C Milan Kraft in place of D Marc Bergevin, who sat out his first game of the playoffs. Kraft, making his NHL playoff debut, was called up Friday from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, where he led the team with 12 goals and 16 points in the American Hockey League playoffs. ... Sabres D Dmitri Kalinin has a plus-minus rating of plus-4, leading all rookies in the playoffs. ... Lemieux's assist gave him 178 career playoff points, moving him ahead of former Montreal captain Jean Beliveau, and into a tie with Buffalo's Doug Gilmour for seventh on the NHL career list.



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