New Jersey forces Game 7

Devils block Flyers' view of Cup finals

Posted: Thursday, May 25, 2000

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils forced a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference finals against the Philadelphia Flyers because they had an answer to Eric Lindros.

They had the ''Reggie Jackson'' of hockey -- Claude Lemieux.

Lemieux scored on a rebound with 8:34 to play to break a scoreless tie and the Devils overcame the return of Lindros by beating the Flyers 2-1 Wednesday night to inch closer to becoming the first team to rally from a 3-1 deficit to reach the Stanley Cup finals.

''Claude, what can you say? Who else would score?'' Devils defenseman Ken Daneyko said ''He got his goal. He was working hard all night. He jumped on the loose puck but this is his time of year. You know, he's the Reggie Jackson of hockey in May and June.''

Alexander Mogilny added an insurance goal for the Devils and it proved vital when Lindros beat Martin Brodeur with 30 seconds to play.

Brodeur only faced 13 shots as the Devils beat the Flyers for the second time in three nights to set up Game 7 in Philadelphia on Friday night.

''We don't have anything yet,'' Daneyko said. ''I hope we didn't climb back for nothing because Game 7 is going to be extremely difficult.''

If that game is as good as Game 6 it will be a wonderful finale to what has been a great series between these border rivals separated by the New Jersey Turnpike.

''The place will be jumping,'' Flyers coach Craig Ramsay said ''The building will be alive. We can feed off of that emotion. We have a good home record and it will be a big game.''

''We have to make sure we make Friday night special in the dressing room after the game,'' said Lindros, who played 14 minutes, 47 seconds on 19 shifts. He played right wing on a third line centered by Daymond Langkow.

The return of Lindros from a series of concussions in Game 6 just added more excitement. He came within a few ticks of the clock of giving the Flyers a 1-0 lead late in the second period and he almost scored on a wraparound with 11:30 left in the game.

The go-ahead goal came after Lemieux forced a turnover by Flyers defenseman Andy Delmore just inside the blue line.

Bobby Holik got the puck and his shot from the right faceoff circle was stopped by Brian Boucher, but Lemieux, the veteran the Devils acquired to get them back to the Cup finals, got to the rebound and backhanded the puck into an open net.

 

Meadowlands employees try to pry the puck out of the face mask of Flyers goalie Brian Boucher in East Rutherford, N.J., Wednesday.

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

''Claude left it there for me and I took a shot the 'D' blocked, and it came down in my skates and I kicked it to my stick,'' Holik said. ''I knew Jay Pandolfo was going to the net and I don't know if he missed the puck or it went off his stick. But Claude was coming late and the goalie was on the ice and he flipped it in.''

It was the 80th career goal in the playoffs for Lemieux, the playoff MVP when the Devils won their only Stanley Cup in 1995.

Mogilny scored on a backhander in close with 3:27 to play.

''There's not much to say,'' Mogilny said of his third goal of the playoffs, which turned out to be the game-winner. ''Sergei Brylin made a great play.

"The puck came loose and it was a lucky goal basically.''

The goal proved to be the game-winner when Lindros scored on a snap shot from the bottom of the right faceoff circle after the Flyers pulled Boucher for an extra skater.

Lindros came close to having a storybook return late in the second period. With 2.7 seconds left in the then scoreless game, the Flyers pulled Boucher and sent six skaters out for a faceoff deep in the Devils' zone.

''Obviously it would have helped,'' said Lindros, who did not know if his goal counted. ''But heading into the third on the road tied is not a bad situation.''

Lindros won the faceoff and the puck got pushed to him to the right of Brodeur. The goaltender stopped his first shot but Lindros lifted the second over him just after the horn sounded to end the period.

The officials signaled no goal and a replay upheld the call.

Much like in Game 5 when they beat the Flyers 4-1 to stay alive, the Devils dominated play in the opening two periods, holding Philadelphia to six shots.

The Flyers didn't have a shot in the second period until John LeClair was stopped on a 2-on-1 from the right circle with 2:29 left.

Until then, Boucher saw 90 percent of the action and he had a couple of close calls. The rookie stopped a power-play point shot by Scott Stevens early, a weak shot on a breakaway by Holik with about seven minutes left, and a backhander from the right circle by Scott Niedermayer with 1:11 to go.

''We were playing solid defensively, we were getting more chances than they were and we knew it was just a matter of time before we started to connect on some,'' Devils defenseman Brian Rafalski said.

The scoreless first period was the first of the series, but that didn't make it boring, not with the return of Lindros and the Devils fighting to survive.

Lindros, who hadn't played since early March, actually had several good shifts, hitting rookie Steve Kelly twice and Lemieux once. However, his aim was off on his two shot attempts.

Rick Tocchet had the Flyers' best chance getting the puck in front five minutes in but he couldn't get much on his shot, one of four in the period by Philadelphia.

Scott Gomez had the Devils' best chance with 2:02 left in the period and Boucher made a mask save, literally. Gomez's shot from the right circle lodged in the wiring of the mask, forcing the rookie goaltender to finish the period wearing a Philadelphia Phantoms mask while his other was being repaired.



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