Devils 2, Stars 1, 2OT

Sunday, June 11th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DALLAS (AP) — The New Jersey Devils finally won the Stanley Cup — even if they were almost too tired to lift it once they did.

Jason Arnott ripped a shot from the left circle past Dallas goaltender Ed Belfour 8:20 into the second overtime, ending a second consecutive tension-filled overtime game — and the Stars' Stanley Cup run — with a 2-1 Devils victory Saturday night.

Arnott one-timed Patrik Elias' shot past Belfour as the Devils prevented the Stars from forcing a Game 7 Monday in New Jersey.

Because the Devils wouldn't lose on the road to Dallas — they were 3-0 in Reunion Arena — the Stanley Cup has a new home. The Stars, who won the Cup on the road in Game 6 last year in Buffalo, lost it in Game 6 at home.

It was the third time in five years the Cup was won in overtime, and the fourth time in five years the Cup has been won on the road.

Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur ended his seven-game overtime playoff losing streak by making 30 saves, while Belfour — one of the heroes of the Stars' 1-0, three-overtime victory in Game 5 — lost despite stopping 43 of 45 shots.

``This is an unbelievable feeling,'' said Brodeur, who had been 1-5 in multiple-overtime games. ``This time around I think I realized it a little more.''

It was the first time in the best-of-seven era there have been back-to-back multiple overtime games in the finals.

Devils defenseman Scott Stevens was named the Conn Smythe Award winner as the playoffs MVP.

``The Stars never gave up, you have to give them credit. They fought and fought,'' Stevens said. ``I was telling everyone to play hard for me. You don't get too many chances, so I'm just enjoying this.''

The Stars' fans were clearly distraught at seeing the Cup won on their ice, but most stayed to cheer the post-game presentation to Stevens by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

``The games we had here were really tough,'' Stars center Mike Modano said. ``They're a great team, outstanding. Those guys — Brodeur, (Scott) Gomez, Arnott — I know how they're feeling. It's a great feeling.''

Many fans began cheering, ``Stan-ley Cup,'' and ``Stan-ley Cup'' and ``Ed-die, Ed-die'' in appreciation not only of two of the most stirring overtime games in recent Cup history, but the excellent goaltending.

It was the end of one era for the Devils — John McMullen's 18-year run as owner — and, likely, the start of another. Larry Robinson became only the third coach to win a Stanley Cup after taking over during the season and, by succeeding Robbie Ftorek with only eight games left, became the latest to take over a Cup champion.

It was Robinson's eighth Stanley Cup title, six as a player and two as a coach, one as an assistant.

``Marty played unbelievable, really throughout the whole series,'' Robinson said. ``Scottie's been a tower of strength. He's got that `C' for a reason. This is not about me. I'm happy for those guys out there.''

The Devils opened a 3-1 series lead, then nearly lost it in overtime — first in the tense goalie duel in Game 5, then in yet another multiple overtime in Game 6 — before avoiding a Game 7. Only one team in NHL history, Detroit in 1942, has lost the finals after leading 3-1.

As might be expected, the Devils won it on the road. They are 5-0 all-time in road Stanley Cup finals games, winning all three in Reunion Arena, where the Stars had won 11 of their last 12 playoff games before the finals.

The Devils matched their own 1995 record with 10 road victories in a single playoff year. They were 10-2 on the road this year.

The Stars became the first defending champion to lose in the finals since the New York Islanders in 1984. The last four defending champs to reach the finals all won. The Devils are the first Eastern Conference team to win the cup since they last did so in 1995.

Both teams started the first overtime with a rush. Sergei Brylin had an open shot within 90 seconds for New Jersey, but the puck hit off the heel of his stick. A short time later, the Stars' Joe Nieuwendyk, last year's playoffs MVP, used a spin move to get open in the slot, only to miss wide on an unguarded shot.

Dallas had a rare overtime power play — referees traditionally call only the most blatant violations in overtime — when Arnott cross-checked Blake Sloan to the jaw while pinning him to the ice at 18:43. Despite having several good scoring chances during the power play, the Stars were credited with one shot on goal to New Jersey's 11 in the first overtime.

One goal was enough for the Stars to win the three-overtime Game 5, but a one-goal lead didn't last two minutes for New Jersey this time.

Scott Niedermayer ended the Devils' 145-minute, 33-second scoreless streak against Belfour on a 3-on-1 break at 5:18, the Devils' second short-handed goal in as many games in Dallas.

Claude Lemieux started the play by blocking Sylvain Cote at the blue line, then took Jay Pandolfo's pass to set up Niedermayer, who played junior hockey for Stars coach Ken Hitchcock.

New Jersey's first lead since the third period of Game 4 lasted only 1:09 before Mike Keane tied it with only the fourth goal in four games for Dallas. Mike Modano made a drop pass to Scott Thornton, who threaded the puck across the ice for Keane's high wrister from the right circle that sailed past Brodeur at 6:27.

Both teams had a flurry of chances later in the period. The Devils' Colin White hit the post and Elias struck the crossbar, and Brodeur stopped Modano's short-range shot from the left circle.

By midway through the first period — easily, the most physical and rambunctious of the series — it appeared the team hoisting the cup would be the one with enough players left to do so.

Each team lost a key player: defenseman Darryl Sydor for Dallas and first-line forward Petr Sykora for New Jersey.

Sykora was taken to a hospital on a stretcher for examination following a high-speed neutral zone collision with the Stars' Derian Hatcher at 12:08. Tests proved negative, but Sykora was to stay overnight for observation.

Hatcher appeared to hit Sykora with his elbow up, but no penalty was called.

Sydor, moved up to the first line in Game 5 in a strategical ploy by Hitchcock, injured his left leg while colliding with the Devils' Scott Gomez with 3:20 gone.

Sydor's leg became tangled with Gomez as he tried to spin off a check, causing Sydor to slam into the boards unprotected.

The physical play increased significantly after that. Arnott hooked his stick under Nieuwendyk's left leg to upend him immediately after a faceoff, but Nieuwendyk wasn't hurt despite slamming into the ice back first.