EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Martin Brodeur was waiting for shots that never came. Now he's waiting for New Jersey's next playoff opponent.
The Devils held Toronto to an NHL modern record-low six shots Monday night and eliminated the Maple Leafs from the Stanley Cup playoffs with a 3-0 victory.
New Jersey, which captured the best-of-seven second-round series in six games, advanced to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since winning the Cup in 1995.
''It's a great feeling to get past the second round,'' said Petr Sykora, who scored 18 seconds after the opening faceoff. ''We just have to make sure we remain calm, we're just halfway there.''
Jason Arnott made it 2-0 25 seconds into the second period and the Devils' defense made sure there would not be a Game 7.
''We never let those guys get back in the hockey game,'' said Brodeur, who earned his second shutout of the series and the eighth of his playoff career. ''It's tough when you only get six shots -- it was hard to focus. That had to be one of my hardest games to play.''
John Madden added an empty-net goal with six seconds remaining to seal the victory for the Devils, who held the Leafs to the fewest shots in any NHL game since the start of the expansion era in 1967, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
''That was a great effort,'' Devils defenseman Scott Stevens said. ''We didn't give them anything. We didn't want to give them life. We didn't want to go back to Toronto.''
New Jersey will play the winner of the Philadelphia-Pittsburgh series which Philadelphia leads 3-2 with Game 6 at Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.
''This was as sweet a hockey game as you could see,'' Devils defenseman Ken Daneyko said. ''It was nice for us, now we get on to another round and we hope we can build on it.''
The Maple Leafs did not win the NHL championship for the 33rd straight year.
Toronto has only reached the conference finals four times since its 1967 title -- including last year's loss to Buffalo.
Toronto's elimination assures that the Stanley Cup will be won by a franchise from the United States for a record seventh straight season, dating to Montreal's victory in 1993. The only time U.S. teams won the Cup six years in a row was from 1936-41.
The Maple Leafs need to look no farther than their top line and their power play for why they could not match the regular season success they held over the Devils. Jonas Hoglund was the only one of the trio, including Mats Sundin and Steve Thomas, to get a shot past Brodeur in the series.
''We didn't shoot the puck,'' Leafs coach Pat Quinn said. ''It is an ongoing problem for our hockey club. They want to see the back of the net before ... when you play a good defensive club, they take care of the play.''
Toronto's previous playoff low for shots was 13 in a 3-0 loss to Philadelphia on April 15, 1975. The Leafs had three shots in the first period Monday, two in the second and just one in the third.
''I think we probably ended up with 13 or 14,'' forward Garry Valk said. ''They always do that in this rink. They don't count as many as they have so it looks like you're not in the game.''
Maple Leafs goalie Curtis Joseph was credited with 24 saves.
Brodeur was hardly tested in adding this shutout to his 1-0 victory at Toronto in Game 2.
''I think Dan-O (Daneyko) had more saves than me,'' Brodeur said. ''It's amazing how it came about, they were refusing to shoot from afar. It's not hard to get six shots.
''I can count six shots we shot on Cujo over the red line.''
The Maple Leafs, 3-0-1 this season against New Jersey, failed in all 20 man-advantage situations during the six games.
''This was our best defensive effort,'' Sykora said. ''Everybody was coming back -- not only the third guy, but the fourth and fifth guy.''
The previous low for shots by a Devils opponent in a playoff game was 13, taken by Pittsburgh in a New Jersey loss last year.
Toronto's best chance Monday came on the Leafs' first shot of the game. Igor Korolev sent a blind backhander from the slot at 7:35 that Brodeur swatted away with his glove.
''We showed a lot of depth,'' Daneyko said. ''We did show some physical prowess. We wore them down as the series went on.''
Sykora got things going for the Devils on the very first shift. Joseph stopped Arnott on the initial rush and deflected the puck behind the net. Patrik Elias kicked it back out in front where Sykora dug it out of traffic in the slot and wristed his fourth goal of the playoffs past Joseph's outstretched glove at 18 seconds. The goal came four seconds shy of New Jersey's playoff record for fastest goal at the start.
Arnott got a second goal for the line just at the start of the middle frame. Sykora fired a shot wide that was corralled by Daneyko, pinching in from the left point. Daneyko moved the puck behind the net to Sykora, who found Arnott in the slot. Arnott quickly put a shot between Joseph's pads at 25 seconds.
''I think we just wanted to finish it tonight, and we gave everything we had,'' Devils center Bobby Holik said. ''We had to play like there was no tomorrow for us, and we did.''
Peninsula Clarion © 2016. All Rights Reserved. | Contact Us