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New Jersey one win away from Stanley Cup Finals

5/17/2003

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Everyone saw Jay Pandolfo's shot go
in the net this time, and Jeff Friesen's winner, too.

Now the New Jersey Devils are one win away from another trip to
the Stanley Cup Finals.

Pandolfo scored the tying goal late in the second period and
Friesen put New Jersey ahead early in the third, as the Devils
remained perfect at home in the playoffs with a 5-2 victory
Saturday over the Ottawa Senators.

"I'm glad they didn't take that one back," said Pandolfo, who
lost a goal that wasn't detected two days earlier.

Patrik Elias and John Madden added goals within the first 7:35
of the final period. New Jersey leads the best-of-seven Eastern
Conference finals 3-1 and can earn its third trip to the Stanley
Cup Finals in four years with a win Monday at Ottawa.

"This is a game we didn't dominate, but we found a way to
win," Friesen said. "We got timely goals, and obviously Jay
Pandolfo's goal was the biggest goal of the season."

The West champion Anaheim Mighty Ducks await the series winner.

"They're the best team in the NHL," forward Scott Gomez said
of Ottawa. "To think about Anaheim would be crazy, absolutely
crazy."

Scott Niedermayer, a two-time champion, is one New Jersey player
who can't help have his thoughts wander a bit. His brother Rob is
an Anaheim forward, and the pair would become the first opposing
brothers in the Stanley Cup Finals since 1946.

"Of course you think about it," he said. "But I don't think
about it too much. We still have more work to do."

Niedermayer didn't talk to his brother since Anaheim completed a
sweep of Minnesota on Friday. He planned to call him later
Saturday.

"I'm just excited for him," he said. "I've had opportunities
in the past and that's pretty much how I look at it now."

Pandolfo has three goals in this series and should have four. He
was denied that goal in Game 3 when play resumed following a
stoppage, but before replays showed the puck entered the net. The
NHL admitted the error, but too late.

It didn't matter as the Devils won 1-0 to grab the lead in the
series in which they dropped the opener. On Saturday, Martin
Brodeur made 26 saves for New Jersey, 8-0 at home in the playoffs.

Karel Rachunek and Vaclav Varada were the unlikely scorers for
the Senators, who are still craving goals from their offensive
stars. Rachunek and Varada combined for only 13 in the regular
season.

The Senators, who had the NHL's best record, have dropped a
season-worst three straight games. They also had two three-game
losing streaks in the regular season.

And now the club that shook off bankruptcy and late pay checks
is close to failing to reach its first Stanley Cup finals in its
11-year history.

Ottawa dominated the first two periods, outshooting the Devils
23-13. But Daniel Alfredsson, limited to just one point in the
series, took a roughing penalty in the offensive zone with 51.7
seconds left in the middle period.

The Devils converted 41 seconds into the third when Brian
Rafalski's drive was deflected by Friesen between Patrick Lalime's
pads to make it 3-2.

It was the second power-play goal of the game for the Devils,
who failed on their first 12 man advantages of the series.
Alfredsson took two penalties that led to New Jersey goals.

"Any time you take penalties you feel responsible. Those were
weak calls," Alfredsson said.

Elias, the Devils' leading scorer this season, made it 4-2 with
just his second goal of the playoffs. Then Madden scored a
short-handed goal.

Alfredsson assisted on Rachunek's goal that tied it 1-1 with
14.5 seconds left in the first period. Alfredsson was second on the
club with 79 points in the regular season, but hadn't gotten on the
score sheet in the first three games.

Ottawa's top scorer, Marian Hossa, also has just one assist in
the series.

"We have thrived spreading the scoring out. Those guys are key
guys, but as a team we have to pull through," forward Mike Fisher
said.

Trailing 1-0, the Senators got a break in the closing seconds of
the opening period. Alfredsson took advantage of a Devils turnover
and set up Rachunek's spin-around goal from the blue line. The goal
snapped Brodeur's shutout streak at 117 minutes, 43 seconds.

It was just reward for the Senators, who outshot the Devils
11-3.

New Jersey grabbed a 1-0 lead on its first shot, by Grant
Marshall from the point.

Varada put the Senators on top for the first time in New Jersey
7:08 into the middle period when the Devils were caught in a line
change.

Game notes
The Devils have won nine straight series when leading 2-1.
... Ottawa lost all three previous series when down 2-1. ... The
Senators are 0-for-17 in the series on the power play. ... Since
going a record 12 straight playoff games without allowing more than
two goals, Lalime has done so in twice in three against New Jersey.

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