Stanley Cup champs draw small crowds


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- The New Jersey Devils are putting
on quite a show wherever they play lately. And they're doing it
without much fanfare.

Patrik Elias scored on a power play to kick off a three-goal
second period, and the Stanley Cup champion Devils extended their
unbeaten streak to eight games with a 3-1 win over the Florida
Panthers on Thursday night.

"It's kind of weird, we're winning and you don't feel the
atmosphere yet and we're on top," Elias said. "Maybe that's a
good thing. We tied a couple of games and we weren't very happy
with the tie. It makes us a better team."

After starting the season 2-3-2, the Devils have gone 6-0-2.
They have not lost since Boston beat them on Oct. 25.

The only thing that hasn't panned out is drawing fans, which has
always been the Devils' problem. The arena was half empty, but the
announced crowd was 10,202. Not that many saw Brian Gionta and Jay
Pandolfo also score for the Devils.

"My job is to win hockey games," Devils coach Pat Burns said.
"I don't believe my job is to go out and invite the people into
the games. We're winning, winning at home. I don't think I'm the
one that can answer that. I don't count the people. I don't look."

The Devils drew 11,146 on Wednesday night for a neutral site
game against Buffalo in Rochester, N.Y.

Martin Brodeur, who has started 14 of 15 games, made 20 saves.

Stephen Weiss scored for Florida, 1-1 since general manager Rick Dudley took over for Mike Keenan as coach.

"I just let go of it as soon as I could," said Weiss, who has
two goals in four games since being recalled from San Antonio. "I
didn't even see where it went."

Other than spurts early in the second period and late in the
third, the Devils dominated the game.

Roberto Luongo, who faced 29 shots, kept Florida in the game for
the first 26 minutes. He stopped 11 shots in the first period, and
New Jersey didn't break through until Mikael Samuelsson of the
Panthers was called for cross-checking in the second period.

Elias deflected a shot from the right point by Brian Rafalski
past Luongo for his third goal of the season, all on the power

"I don't know how he tipped it," Luongo said. "It was like he
was handcuffed."

Less than a minute after stretching his leg out for a
highlight-reel stop on Jamie Langenbrunner, Luongo opened his pads
ever so slightly on a bad-angle shot by Gionta from the right
circle, giving New Jersey a 2-0 lead at 13:23.

"That's the way the pads close," Luongo said. "There's that
little hole and it sneaked in."

Pandolfo increased the lead to 3-0 with a shot from the left
circle at 15:56.

Weiss scored on a rebound in the final minute of the second

Game Notes: Devils rookie D David Hale picked up his first NHL point
with an assist on Gionta's goal. ... The Devils were 1-for-3 on the
power play. ... Florida did not get a power play until Devils D
Scott Stevens was sent off with 2:14 to play and John Madden
followed 30 seconds later, giving the Panthers a 6-on-3 edge since
they pulled Luongo, too. They got only one shot. ... Weiss was the
fourth pick overall in the 2001 draft. ... Florida beat New Jersey
2-1 in New Jersey on Oct. 22.