Devils find offense

Posted: Monday, May 15, 2000

PHILADELPHIA -- Whether they give up six shots or 36, play tight checking or more wide open, the New Jersey Devils are winning playoff games.

And that's put the Philadelphia Flyers in a familiar position, having to overcome some more adversity.

Petr Sykora and Bobby Holik scored in a 26-second span late in a three-goal first period and Martin Brodeur made 35 saves as the Devils used a rare offensive outburst to beat the Flyers 4-1 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals on Sunday.

''Everybody makes us out to be such a defensive team, that we trap all over the place,'' Devils defenseman Ken Daneyko said. ''But we've got a lot of offensive ability out there. Today was a good indication that we can play offensive if need be; and you have to win in this league.

''Look at Colorado (Saturday),'' Daneyko added. ''Everybody says they're a high-flying offensive team and they played as boring you can play against Dallas. But they won, that's the important thing.''

Scott Niedermayer and Claude Lemieux also scored as the Devils won for the ninth time in 11 playoff games and grabbed the lead in the best-of-seven series.

Mark Recchi tallied for the Flyers, who will have to win Game 2 on Tuesday night to avoid falling behind 2-0 at home for the second straight series.

''The way they scored goals is concerning,'' Recchi said. ''We gave the puck up and made mistakes.''

The Flyers weren't alone in that in a game filled with great hitting and good goaltending by Brodeur and Flyers rookie Brian Boucher, who faced 24 shots.

The Devils, who shut down Florida and Toronto in the opening two rounds of the playoffs with tight checking, never slowed down Philadelphia.

The Flyers, who got some unexpected help with the return of Keith Primeau from a concussion, outshot New Jersey 36-24. It was only the second time the Devils have been outshot in the playoffs, and it came one game after New Jersey set a modern-day NHL record limiting Toronto to six shots in their conference semifinal clincher on Monday night.

''Marty made some big saves for us and they missed a couple of opportunities,'' Devils coach Larry Robinson said. ''They used their speed well and got more shots than I would have liked. They got way too many chances so we'll have to shore that up.''

Philadelphia actually had the better of the play in a 1-1 game late in the first period when the Devils broke it open with two quick goals.

Sykora gave New Jersey the lead for good with a backhander in front with 2:22 left in the period. Jason Arnott made the big play in the corner. He checked defenseman Eric Desjardins as he was going for the puck -- the Flyers complained it was interference -- and sent it to Sykora for a shot between Boucher's legs.

Just as Sykora's name was being announced as the goal scorer, Holik stretched the lead to 3-1 on a quick rush. Randy McKay got the puck over the Flyers blue line, pushed it ahead to Sergei Brylin, who found Holik for a cross-ice pass. Holik finished into an open net.

Holik evaded a check by Primeau to get open and score his first playoff goal since 1997. He had gone 28 games without a goal.

''It takes the life out of you when they get two quick ones like that,'' Flyers defenseman Chris Therien said. ''We kept fighting but their goaltender made some good saves.''

Brodeur might have been at his best in the second period when the Flyers held a 13-4 shot advantage, getting good chances in close by Primeau and two great ones by John LeClair. Brodeur made a diving stick stop on LeClair's own rebound for the second one.

''On their power play I think I faced more shots than the whole 60 minutes against Toronto,'' Brodeur said. ''I looked up at the scoreboard and that's exactly what I thought. I already past the six shot mark.''

Lemieux closed out the scoring early in the third, tapping in a pass from Alexander Mogilny on a power play.

Boucher, who excelled in the Flyers' conference semifinal win over Pittsburgh, got a rude awakening in this one as Niedermayer scored on the Devils' first shot. McKay and Brylin set up the defenseman in the right circle and his rising shot lifted Boucher's water bottle off the top of the net at 55 seconds.

It also came on Primeau's first shift of the game and silenced the sellout crowd of 19,779 for a couple of minutes.

Recchi woke them up at 8:20 after Brodeur failed to handle a slap shot by Daymond Langkow with his glove. The puck popped loose and Recchi beat Niedermayer to the puck and backhanded it home.



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