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New Jersey treating Game 6 as do or die

Devils don't want Game 7

Posted: Wednesday, May 21, 2003

EAST RUTHERFOPD, N.J. The last thing the New Jersey Devils want to do is go back to Ottawa.

That's why they are treating Wednesday night's Game 6 against the Senators at the Continental Airlines Arena as if it's the last game of the Eastern Conference finals.

''It's something we have to put in our minds, that we need to do this now,'' Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur said Tuesday. ''From now on, the longer you wait to take a team out the harder it is. These guys will get momentum if we don't cut it now.''

The Senators picked up some momentum Monday night when they avoided elimination with a 3-1 victory that cut the Devils' lead in the best-of-seven series to 3-2.

''We have to be better than we were last night,'' Senators center Bryan Smolinski said. ''Whatever we did well, we're going to have to do better, do more, but be controlled also. Understand that it's live or die, and we give ourselves the best chance.''

The Devils were kicking themselves some on Tuesday because they didn't match the Senators' intensity throughout Game 5 in Ottawa.

The biggest lapse came in the third period when Ottawa scored twice and New Jersey didn't test goaltender Patrick Lalime much.

''There was zero desperation,'' Devils right wing Grant Marshall said. ''Sure, there was some work and some good things, but we didn't play at all. We didn't play very good at all. We played their transition game. We have to get back to playing our game.''

The comforting thing for the Devils is that they have not lost at home in eight playoff games. They also have not lost consecutive games in the postseason, bouncing back after each of their three previous losses.

''I think you have to go out there and play your game,'' said Scott Stevens, one of three Devils who did not practice Tuesday at the team's training facility in West Orange. ''You can't be worried, that won't help. You have to play with confidence and want the puck.''

Center John Madden and left wing Jay Pandolfo also skipped the short workout.

Left wing Peter Schaefer and defenseman Zdeno Chara did not practice with the Senators in their workout in Ottawa.

Coach Jacques Martin said both should be fine.

High-scoring right wing Marian Hossa said he injured his left knee Monday night, the same one that required surgery when he was a junior in 1998. He also has been bothered by the flu.

''We know we were successful in the regular season in their building,'' Hossa said. ''We just have to focus on one game at a time. It's a must situation for us so we have to be prepared to win the game.''

The Devils are familiar with coming back from 3-1 deficits in the conference finals. They did it against Philadelphia in winning their second Stanley Cup in 2000.

New Jersey won the final game in Philadelphia on a late, and somewhat lucky, goal by Patrik Elias.

''That's why you don't want a Game 7,'' Brodeur said. ''They had a great game in Game 7 and it went off one of their D right to Patty. You have to be careful.''

The only person on the Devils who didn't seem to be worried about the situation was coach Pat Burns. He said if you asked the team in September would they be satisfied heading into Game 6 of the conference finals with a 3-2 lead everybody would have agreed.

''They are a good team and we have to be prepared for that,'' Burns said. ''It's not just going to happen. If anybody here believes that it's just going to happen, it's not. We have to make it happen ourselves.''



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