<
>

Gionta, Devils rally from 3 down to beat Leafs in SO

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Brian Gionta and John Madden helped
Martin Brodeur get over quite possibly the worst 20 minutes of his
career with New Jersey.

Brodeur atoned for Toronto's five-goal second period by stopping
three shots in a shootout and the Devils rallied from a three-goal
deficit in the third period to beat the Maple Leafs 7-6 on Thursday
night.

"It was a tough game for me but we pulled it out of our hat,"
Brodeur said. "Give a lot of credit to the guys for bouncing back.
When your goalie doesn't make the saves, it's hard to get up and
get going. They proved they have a lot of character."

Gionta led the Devils' comeback by scoring three times in the
third period to make it 6-6, the tying goal coming with 37 seconds
to play. He also scored in the shootout which the Devils won 2-1 in
four rounds.

"Obviously we struggled the first two periods." Gionta said
after his first career hat trick. "We turned it on in the third
and battled back for two points. It's gratifying when you do it."

Madden scored twice in regulation and got the game-winner in the
shootout. Sergei Brylin got the other goal for New Jersey.

"We felt they were giving us chances to stay in the game,"
Madden said. "We missed some glorious opportunities in the second.
We just wanted to go out, get the next goal and go from there."

Matt Stajan scored twice and Jeff O'Neill, Chad Kilger, Darcy
Tucker and Alexei Ponikarovsky each had one goal for Toronto, which
led 6-3 entering the third period.

"It's definitely frustrating," Toronto captain Mats Sundin
said. "We played two good periods, and to let them back when you
are up 6-3 is a heartbreaker. It feels like a loss even though we
got a point."

Stajan gave the Maple Leafs a 1-0 lead in the shootout, then
Brodeur stopped Sundin, Tucker and Ponikarovsky.

Gionta scored on the Devils' second shot against Jean-Sebastien
Aubin and Madden won it on the fourth with a goal that had to be
reviewed, but it was clearly in.

"From the sound I knew it was in," Aubin said.

Gionta, who set a team-record with 48 goals last season and got
a $12 million contract as reward, started the comeback with two
power-play goals. His first came on a deflection of a shot by Brian
Rafalski at 6:29. The second was from in close with 5:41 left in
regulation and the third came with Brodeur off for an extra skater.
Scott Gomez had assists on the last two.

The Maple Leafs' five-goal second period was started by two
goals by Stajan. Kilger, Tucker and Ponikarovsky also scored in the
opening 14:48 as New Jersey fans made derisive cheers every time
Brodeur touched the puck.

The five goals allowed in the period matched Brodeur's career
worst, which came on Nov. 14, 1998 in a third-period onslaught by
the Flyers in Philadelphia. It also tied the Devils record for most
allowed in a period at home.

Brodeur, who moved into third place past Terry Sawchuk with his
448th win, was a victim of some bad play on his part, a couple of
bad bounces and two great shots.

Stajan got Toronto going by banking in a shot off a prone
Brodeur from almost behind the goal line at 1:13 for a 2-1 lead.

After Madden tied with his second of the game at 3:30, Stajan
needed only 20 seconds to have his slapshot deflect off a stick
past Brodeur.

Less than a minute later, Kilger came out from behind the net to
tuck the rebound of a shot by Michael Peca under Brodeur for a 4-2
lead. Tucker pushed the lead to 5-3 when his shot from the faceoff
circle deflected off Brylin's skate past Brodeur.

Ponikarovsky got the fifth goal with a bomb from between the
circles at 14:38.

Game notes
The Devils have asked D Scott Lachance to continue his
tryout with Lowell of the AHL. RW Nathan Perrott, who also had a
tryout, was released on Thursday. ... With D Pavel Kubina expected
to be sidelined at least a month with a knee injury, Jay Harrison
played defense for Toronto.