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Devils pester Leafs backup Schwab with four goals

3/2/2002

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- The New Jersey Devils showed the
Toronto Maple Leafs that playing without goaltender Curtis Joseph
isn't going to be easy.

Scott Gomez and Petr Sykora scored on New Jersey's first two
shots and the Devils put four of their first 12 shots behind Corey
Schwab in defeating the Maple Leafs 4-2 on Friday night.

"It's a tough situation for them, not having Cujo," Devils
goaltender Martin Brodeur said of Joseph, who broke his left hand
Tuesday. "But on the other hand, he'll be fresh if he is able
to come back for the playoffs."

Maple Leafs Pat Quinn refused to blame Schwab after the Maple
Leafs had a three-game winning streak snapped, and lost for only
the second time in eight games.

"For me to finger point is not the case," Quinn said. "We
have to point the finger some place else, at ourselves."

Patrik Elias and Jason Arnott, Sykora's linemates, also scored
as the Devils took advantage of a poor performance by Schwab, who
faced 26 shots.

"I want to get better and better each game and each period,"
said Schwab, a former Devil. "I haven't played in three or four
weeks. I want to focus on getting better."

Brodeur is playing as well as he has all year. He stopped 19
saves in picking up his second consecutive victory since helping Canada
win the gold medal at the Olympics.

Toronto defenseman Bryan McCabe scored in the second period and
Garry Valk got the other with 5:55 to play.

"I talked to Corey before the game and wished him luck,"
Brodeur said. "This is the break he's been waiting to get his
whole career. Maybe he'll play well."

Schwab never looked comfortable in the net.

Gomez opened the scoring at 3:29 with a goal Schwab nudged
into his own net after he failed to poke check Gomez's pass from
the corner.

Gomez made a rush down the left wing and centered a pass across
the crease to Bobby Holik coming down the middle of the ice. The
puck hit off either Schwab or Maple Leafs teammate Mats Sundin, hit
off the right post and then went into the net off Schwab's skate.
"It's not the way I planned it on the first one," Schwab said.
"They made a pass and I deflected the puck off Holik's shin pad.
The second one was a pretty good shot."

Sykora had that one 1:21 later on a shot from above the circles.
Schwab never came out to challenge the shot and never got a glove
on it.

"Who knows what Cujo would have done," Sykora said. "I still
feel Schwabbie played very well for them. I wouldn't say he was the
reason they lost. We played very well with the lead the whole
game."

Elias stretched the margin to 3-1 with his 22nd goal of the
season. It came on a two-on-one short-handed break after McCabe whiffed
on a shot while coming in from the right point. Elias got the puck,
skated into the left circle and overpowered Schwab.

Arnott got his 22nd goal at 9:22 of the second period, putting
in a pass from behind the net by Sykora. It was the one goal Schwab
didn't really have a chance to stop.

McCabe spoiled Brodeur's shutout bid with a shot from the right
point that appeared to deflect off a Devils player.

Valk scored in close after Devils defensemen Tommy Albelin and
Mike Commodore collided.

Game notes
With the Devils ahead 4-0 in the second period, the sellout
crowd started chanting "U-S-A, U-S-A" with the team from the
United States beating the one from Canada. ... Devils defensemen
Scott Niedermayer (pinched nerve) and Andrei Zyuzin (ankle) both
missed the game with injuries sustained in the 1-0 defeat Wednesday night at Philadelphia. Albelin and Commodore replaced them. ...
While Niedermayer's injury prevented another run-in with Tie Domi,
the Toronto enforcer had a fight with Devils big man Jim McKenzie
nine seconds after New Jersey took a 2-0 lead. ... New Jersey was
0-for-5 on the power play. It is now 0-for-15 in the last four
games and 2-for-35 in the last 11. ... Toronto is 3-6-1-1 against Atlantic Division teams, the only division it doesn't have a
winning record against. New Jersey is 2-0-1 against Toronto this
season.