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Friday, April 18

Updated: April 19, 6:21 AM ET

Devils finding that right playoff timing

Associated Press

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A year after being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, the New Jersey Devils are making a strong run at their third Stanley Cup since 1995.

New Jersey advanced to the second round on Thursday night, beating the Boston Bruins 3-0 to win their best-of-seven series in five games.

It was typical Devils' hockey -- a little scoring and a lot of defense led by goaltender Martin Brodeur, who gave up only three goals in the four games New Jersey won.

"He is arguably the best goalie in the league, and I think that that team plays as well as a team as anybody in the National Hockey League,'' said Bruins forward Brian Rolston, who won a Cup with New Jersey in '95.

"I don't think they are the most talented team, but they play as a team very well, and I think that's what beat us.''

Devils center John Madden was outstanding once again in his role of negating the opposition's top line, Joe Thornton, Glen Murray and Mike Knuble. The line managed two goals in the playoffs after scoring 110 in the regular season.

Madden, who was giving away five inches and 30 pounds to Thornton, also scored twice in the series and had a team-high eight points.

Forward Jamie Langenbrunner had a big series, scoring five goals. He had only one point in the first-round loss to Carolina last season.

"There's a lot of work still to be done,'' Langenbrunner said. "I plan on coming back and having a good second round.''

The Devils will play either Tampa Bay, Philadelphia or Toronto in their next series.

If Tampa Bay beats Washington, then New Jersey will play the Lightning. If Washington wins that series, the Capitals will play Ottawa, and the Devils will play the winner of the Toronto-Philadelphia series.

Brodeur said that the Devils were nervous heading into the first round.

"It always stays with you when you don't do well in the playoff series,'' said Brodeur, who had two shutouts in the series. "Just getting out of the first one is always the hardest.''

Eliminating the Bruins quickly gives the Devils a chance to rest before the second round.

The earliest that either the Tampa Bay-Washington or the Toronto-Philadelphia series can end is Sunday. Both could last until Tuesday.

"It's huge for us to get a couple of days off,'' Langenbrunner said. "We won the series 4-1, but this was a battle. They played physical and hard. It took a lot for us to get the wins so the days off will be great for us.''

Since beating Dallas to win the Stanley Cup in 2000, the Devils have come within a game of repeating in 2001 and were eliminated last year by Carolina, which played lost in the finals.

"They're a solid team and they play as a team,'' Bruins coach Mike O'Connell said. "Their focus is winning. They all play similar styles.''
Bruins
Boston
36-31-11-4

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Devils
New Jersey
46-20-10-6

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