EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. The next time the New Jersey Devils put their undefeated home mark on the line, they hope it'll be in the Stanley Cup finals.
The Devils took a major step closer to their third finals appearance in four years Saturday with a three-goal outburst in the third period of a 5-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators.
Jeff Friesen, Patrik Elias and John Madden scored in the first 7:35 of the final period to break open a tie game and give the No. 2 seeded Devils a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals.
New Jersey is 8-0 at home in the postseason and can advance to the finals against the West champion Anaheim Mighty Ducks with a win Monday at Ottawa.
''We have to be ready for our best game,'' Friesen said.
No one, except maybe Scott Niedermayer, is looking ahead to a matchup with the Ducks.
''They're the best team in the NHL,'' forward Scott Gomez said of Ottawa. ''To think about Anaheim would be crazy, absolutely crazy.''
But that's what these playoffs have been all along, especially out West. The seventh-seeded Mighty Ducks knocked out the top two seeds Dallas and Detroit before completing a sweep of equally surprising Minnesota on Friday in the conference finals.
Ottawa earned the top seed in the East after accruing an NHL-best 113 points.
The Senators looked every bit like that team in the first two periods, when they held a 23-13 shots advantage. New Jersey scored on its first shot 7:25 in, before Karel Rachunek and Vaclav Varada put Ottawa on top.
''This is a game we didn't dominate, but we found a way to win,'' Friesen said. ''We got timely goals, and obviously Jay Pandolfo's goal was the biggest goal of the season.''
Pandolfo tied it late in the second period.
''I'm glad they didn't take that one back,'' said Pandolfo, who lost a goal that wasn't detected two days earlier.
Niedermayer, a two-time champion, is one New Jersey player who can't help have his thoughts wander a bit. His brother Rob is an Anaheim forward, and the pair would become the first opposing brothers in the Stanley Cup finals since 1946.
''Of course you think about it,'' he said. ''But I don't think about it too much. We still have more work to do.''
Niedermayer didn't talk to his brother since Anaheim completed a sweep of Minnesota on Friday. He planned to call him later Saturday.
''I'm just excited for him,'' he said. ''I've had opportunities in the past and that's pretty much how I look at it now.''
Pandolfo has three goals in this series and should have four. He was denied that goal in Game 3 when play resumed following a stoppage, but before replays showed the puck entered the net. The NHL admitted the error, but too late.
It didn't matter as the Devils won 1-0 to grab the lead in the series in which they dropped the opener. On Saturday, Martin Brodeur made 26 saves.
The Senators have dropped a season-worst three straight games. They also had two three-game losing streaks in the regular season.
And now the club that shook off bankruptcy and late pay checks is close to failing to reach its first Stanley Cup finals in its 11-year history.
Ottawa forward Daniel Alfredsson, limited to just one point in the series, took a roughing penalty in the offensive zone with 51.7 seconds left in the middle period.
The Devils converted 41 seconds into the third when Brian Rafalski's drive was deflected by Friesen between Patrick Lalime's pads to make it 3-2.
It was the second power-play goal of the game for the Devils, who failed on their first 12 man advantages of the series. Alfredsson took two penalties that led to New Jersey goals.
''Any time you take penalties you feel responsible. Those were weak calls,'' Alfredsson said.
Elias, the Devils' leading scorer this season, made it 4-2 with just his second goal of the playoffs. Then Madden scored a short-handed goal.
Alfredsson assisted on Rachunek's goal that tied it 1-1 with 14.5 seconds left in the first period. Alfredsson was second on the club with 79 points in the regular season, but had none in the first three games.
Ottawa's top scorer, Marian Hossa, also has just one assist in the series.
''We have thrived spreading the scoring out. Those guys are key guys, but as a team we have to pull through,'' forward Mike Fisher said.
The Senators got even when Alfredsson took advantage of a Devils turnover and set up Rachunek's spin-around goal from the blue line. The goal snapped Brodeur's shutout streak at 117 minutes, 43 seconds.
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