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Brylin prevents home opener loss for N.J.

10/16/2003

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- A couple of hours after helping to
raise the New Jersey Devils' third championship banner since 1995,
Sergei Brylin salvaged their home opener with seconds to spare.

Brylin, one of four current Devils to play on all three
championship teams, scored with two seconds left in regulation to
give New Jersey a 2-2 tie with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"Both things were great," Brylin said of his pre- and
late-game accomplishments. "At the end of the game, a goal is more
important than anything else. The banner was up already, so that
was good thing, too."

Brylin gave much of the credit for the late-game heroics to
defenseman Brian Rafalski, who set up his goal and another in the
first period by Jay Pandolfo.

With the clock winding down in regulation and goaltender Martin Brodeur on the bench for an extra skater, Rafalski carried the puck into the right corner and feathered a pass across the crease. Patrik Elias swatted at the puck, then Brylin popped it into the net.

"Brian made a great play," Brylin said. "He faked the guy
out. He was so patient. He knew there are three or four seconds
left in the game. That was an unbelievable play."

Rafalski smiled when asked about his patience.

"I knew there was no chance of me getting the shot through,"
Rafalski said. "I had to create a different lane. Even if there
were two seconds left, I would have done the same thing."

The late goal spoiled a great performance by Ed Belfour, who made 31 saves.

Belfour said he didn't have a chance on Brylin's goal.

"It was just one of those things with two seconds," Belfour
said. "The puck is bouncing around like a pinball, and it ended up
going in for them."

Nik Antropov and Darcy Tucker scored second-period goals for the
Maple Leafs, who were outshot 15-3 in the first period.

"We were running around a little bit," Belfour said. "I
wasn't playing the puck as well as I should back there with the
defense. They had good pressure on us, and we bobbled the puck a few
times."

The only reason the Devils didn't come away with two points was
Belfour stopped Jamie Langenbrunner on three chances from close
range in overtime.

Tucker had given the Maple Leafs the lead late in the second
period. He took a pass from Matt Stajan, spun around and ripped a
shot past Brodeur, whose only busy period was in the second, when
he faced 10 shots.

Antropov had tied the score at 1-all about six minutes earlier,
putting the rebound of a Tom Fitzgerald shot between Brodeur and
the post.

Pandolfo gave New Jersey the lead by deflecting a shot by
Rafalski into the net 4:48 after the opening faceoff. New Jersey
had the first 10 shots.

Game notes
Devils D Scott Stevens played in his 1,600th NHL game, only the sixth player to reach the milestone. ...The Oct. 16 home opener was the latest in a non-strike season. ...Toronto RW Alexander Mogilny missed the game with a groin injury. ...Devils C Igor Larionov, who had three assists in the first two games, missed the game with a knee injury sustained in practice Wednesday.