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Ducks goosed again

Posted: Friday, May 30, 2003

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. Martin Brodeur isn't getting jiggy with anything. He says he's not motivated by his Stanley Cup finals duel with Jean-Sebastien Giguere, but two straight shutouts say he is.

Patrik Elias and Scott Gomez scored second-period goals set up by the seldom-used Oleg Tverdovsky and the New Jersey Devils seized a 2-0 finals lead, riding another shutout by Brodeur to a 3-0 victory over the Anaheim Mighty Ducks on Thursday night.

Brodeur tied Dominik Hasek's 2002 record of six shutouts in a playoff year with his second in a row and, just as in a 3-0 victory in Game 1, was barely challenged. The Ducks had only 16 shots for a second straight game, just two in the Devils' decisive second period.

Brodeur is the first goalie to start the finals with consecutive shutouts since Toronto's Frank McCool had three straight against Detroit in 1945.

''What's important is we're winning,'' Brodeur said. ''You've got to be excited about starting the series like this.''

Especially considering Giguere also known as ''Jiggy'' was the hot goalie going into the finals and was seen as the Conn Smythe Trophy favorite. Apparently, Brodeur took that as a personal challenge.

''You want to be the best out there,'' Brodeur said. ''Jean-Sebastien really proved that he belonged here and he's playing so far really well. We're getting really good goals on him. But definitely it's really an incentive to beat the best goalie that's playing right now.''

Brodeur is the first goalie with consecutive shutouts in the finals, regardless of game number, since Detroit's Terry Sawchuk in Games 3 and 4 of a four-game sweep of Montreal in 1952.

Remarkably, the offensive key to the Devils' victory, just as in Game 1, were players obtained from Anaheim in a trade for Petr Sykora last summer. Jeff Friesen had two goals in Game 1 and another in Game 2, and Tverdovsky's playmaking dramatically turned Game 2 in a seven-minute span.

''I think any time you go from one team to another, you want to prove to them ... you want to play your best hockey against them,'' defenseman Scott Stevens said. ''Jeff is showing that right now and so is Oleg.''

The Devils, suffocating the Ducks with a trapping defense that gives up shots as grudgingly as some teams give up goals, go to Anaheim for Game 3 on Saturday with a lead that has almost guaranteed the Cup in the past. New Jersey is going for its third Cup since 1995.

Of the 28 teams to sweep Games 1 and 2 at home in the finals, only one the Chicago Blackhawks, against Montreal in 1971 has not won hockey's biggest prize.

''It's definitely easier to go all the way to California (with a two-game lead),'' Brodeur said. ''I think we discouraged them a lot by playing solid defense.''

Anaheim's problem right now isn't just winning, but scoring. The Ducks knocked off the rust that was evident following a 10-day layoff before Game 1 and were visibly faster and more physical in Game 2. The trouble was, that didn't translate into good scoring chances.

''We're not playing with the same passion and will as we did in the first three rounds,'' Ducks defenseman Keith Carney said.

Again, the Ducks' biggest threats Paul Kariya, Sykora, Adam Oates were practically invisible. Kariya had no shots and has only one in two games. Kariya said that's unacceptable and, ''Obviously, we didn't want this coming out of New Jersey. But that's the position we're in, and we'll have to come out of it.''

''It looks to me like they're doing to us what we did to two teams before us,'' Ducks coach Mike Babcock said. ''They've got everybody jumping, no matter what line or what matchup, and they're a hungry, hungry team.''

Babcock also said the Mighty Ducks ''had no emotion again,'' and he might make changes for Game 3.

Tverdovsky, so deep in coach Pat Burns' doghouse earlier in the playoffs that he was scratched for eight of the last nine games before the finals, created both Devils goals in the second period simply by throwing the puck on the net from the right point.

With the teams scoreless early in the second period, just as they were in Game 1, and Sykora in the penalty box for holding, Tverdovsky's pass caromed off Ducks defenseman Kurt Sauer as he became tangled with New Jersey's Grant Marshall in front of the net and caromed to an unguarded Elias for a tap-in at 4:42.

Before last year's trade, Elias and Sykora formed two-thirds of the 'A' Line, with Jason Arnott, that led the Devils to the Stanley Cup in 2000.

Tverdovsky was playing mostly because of Burns' hunch he might be motivated by opposing his former team. Apparently, he was.

''I don't think it can get more exciting than playing the Stanley Cup finals against any team, but maybe (because) it's the Ducks, I have a little extra edge,'' Tverdovsky said.

About seven minutes later, Tverdovsky shot the puck toward the net from above the right circle and it deflected off Gomez's knee and past Giguere only Gomez's second goal in 18 playoff games. The two assists in the period were one-quarter as many as Tverdovsky had in 50 regular season games and doubled his playoff points total.

By now, the rare sellout crowd in Continental Airlines Arena was serenading Giguere with the chant ''Marty's better,'' and, at least for two games, Brodeur has been that. He has yet to allow a goal, while Giguere who gave up only one goal in four games against Minnesota in the Western Conference final has allowed five goals in 54 shots.

Friesen added his third of the finals with a seemingly harmless backhander that eluded a screened Giguere at 4:22 of the third.

By then, Giguere was almost shaking with anger.

''I know what a competitive guy he is,'' Friesen said. ''That's his nature. He's going to do that (react) a lot. He's definitely going to quiver.''

But are the Ducks shaking? Kariya insists they're not, especially with the next two games in Anaheim.

''We know we haven't played our best game, not even close to our best game,'' he said.

Notes: Of New Jersey's six goals in the series, Friesen and Tverdovsky have figured in five. ... New Jersey is 10-1 at home in the playoffs, only one victory short of Edmonton's record 11 at home in 1988. ... Friesen has five goals in New Jersey's last nine games. ... New Jersey is 9-0 in the playoffs when leading after two periods. ... Stevens played in his 228th playoff game, a record for a defenseman. Former Devils coach Larry Robinson previously held the record. ... This is the first time a team has won the first two games in the finals since 1998, when Detroit went on to sweep Washington.



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