Devils jump out to 2-0 lead in Stanley Cup final with Game 2 win over Ducks

Friday, May 30th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CP) _ The tables have turned on the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, who have run into the superior defensive machine of the New Jersey Devils in the Stanley Cup final.

``It looks like they're doing to us what we did to three teams before we got here,'' Ducks head coach Mike Babcock said following Thursday's 3-0 loss to the Devils in Game 2.

The sputtering Ducks have failed to score a single goal in two games.

Martin Brodeur again needed to make only 16 saves to record his second consecutive shutout.

Patrik Elias and Scott Gomez snapped out of offensive slumps with a goal and an assist apiece as the Eastern Conference champions used another dominating second period to defeat their Western opponents.

``I think any time you keep a team under 20 shots, you're doing a good job defensively,'' said Devils captain Scott Stevens.

Defensive gems don't rate well on television but Thursday's effort by the Devils ranks among the more impressive defensive displays in recent Cup history.

``We're being patient,'' said New Jersey head coach Pat Burns, who could barely suppress his pleasure in his team's play. ``We're not trying to do things that are not us, and we're generating offence from it.

``Am I impressed? I'll be impressed if we win it (the Cup).''

History suggests Burns will collect his first career NHL championship ring.

Only three teams have ever come back to win the Stanley Cup after trailing 2-0 in a best-of-seven series. They were the 1971 and 1966 Montreal Canadiens and the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs.

``We have pretty good momentum,'' said Brodeur, who became the first goalie since Toronto's Frank McCool in 1945 to post consecutive shutouts in the opening two games of the final.

``But we know we're going to a place that never has seen the Stanley Cup final before. It will be awesome.

``Those guys are going to be excited to try to forget this trip to New Jersey and get on the board in the first game and put pressure on us.''

While Brodeur wasn't tested as much as Anaheim counterpart Jean-Sebastien Giguere, he made a sliding glove save on Sandis Ozolinsh late in the third period after his stick was knocked out of his hand.

He also stopped Steve Rucchin on a partial breakaway late in the second period to keep the score 2-0.

``I think when the chance does come or if we do make an error, which will happen, he has to come up big, and he has certainly done that,'' Burns said of Brodeur, who tied Dominik Hasek's 2002 record of six shutouts in one post-season.

Jeff Friesen scored his eighth goal of the playoffs and defenceman Oleg Tverdovsky had a pair of assists for the Devils, who look to take a stranglehold in the series with a win in Game 3 in Anaheim on Saturday night (CBC, ABC, 8 p.m. EDT) at the Arrowhead Pond.

The Ducks had a mildly better effort Thursday night, skating with more speed through the neutral zone, but they remained incapable of penetrating the slot with the puck to get a good scoring chance on Brodeur.

``We've got to create more traffic (in front of Brodeur) where we will have to generate more offence,'' said Ducks captain Paul Kariya, held without a single shot in Game 2.

``We know we haven't played our best game, not even close to our best game,'' added Kariya.

The Devils once again forechecked aggressively and were able to control the puck for long stretches, particularly with their cycle along the boards and behind the net.

Giguere, meanwhile, appears to have lost his magic. The Anaheim goalie was out of position on New Jersey's first goal by Elias and looked weak on Friesen's third-period goal, a backhand along the ice.

The sellout crowd of 19,040 at Continental Airlines Arena chanted ``Over-rated, Over-rated,'' following Friesen's goal. They later chanted ``Marty's better, Marty's better.''

``I'm frustrated with myself, I've got to be better,'' Giguere said. ``This is nothing I'm not used to. I faced those kinds of challenges before with a lot of traffic in front. This is part of my job. I've got the tools to face that.''

Babcock tried to kickstart his offence in the third period by briefly reuniting Kariya with Adam Oates and Petr Sykora, but Anaheim couldn't solve New Jersey's defensive system and failed to mount any kind of attack in the final period.

After a second consecutive scoreless first period, the Devils opened the scoring on a lucky break 4:42 into the second.

Tverdovsky's point shot on a power play deflected off Ducks defenceman Kurt Sauer right onto the stick of Elias at the side of the net while Giguere had come out to challenge the shot. The tap-in goal in the open net woke up the crowd.

It was the first power-play goal of the series for either team and it came thanks to a bad holding penalty by former Devil Sykora, who hauled down Sergei Brylin in the offensive zone.

Tverdovsky set up New Jersey's second goal just over six minutes later, his point shot from the middle of the ice deflecting off Gomez's legs and past a helpless Giguere and suddenly the Ducks were in a deep hole.

And to think the Devils had offered Tverdovsky to the Montreal Canadiens at the March trading deadline in exchange for Patrice Brisebois in a deal that fell through when the Habs defenceman refused to restructure his contract.

Anaheim had little hope of mounting a comeback in the third period, based on New Jersey's history.

The Devils registered their 27th consecutive playoff victory when leading after two periods in a streak that dates back to the spring of 2000.

The Devils were also an incredible 33-0-5-1 when leading after two periods during the regular season.