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Brodeur continues to lead Devils in playoff hunt

3/14/2002

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- The New Jersey Devils may not have
to worry about making the playoffs if Martin Brodeur keeps playing
this way.

Brian Gionta and Jim McKenzie scored early on consecutive shots
and Brodeur foiled an Islanders' rally with what might have been
his best save of the year, leading the Devils to a 3-2 win over New
York on Wednesday night.

Brodeur finished with only 18 saves as the Devils improved their
playoff chances with their second straight win, and ended the
Islanders' two-game winning streak.

However, there was one stop everyone was talking about after the
game. It was the desperation leg save Brodeur made on Mariusz
Czerkawski late in the second period with the Devils clinging to a
3-2 lead.

Czerkawski got a breakaway after stepping out of the penalty
box. He deked Brodeur to the ice, skating in front of the crease.
Brodeur was on his stomach as Czerkawski went to put the puck high
into the net. As he shot, Brodeur lifted his leg at the knee and
deflected the shot wide.

"I saw it on replay," Devils defenseman Ken Daneyko said. "He
was down and out. He did a hamstring curl. That was one of the best
saves I've seen. That's why he is getting paid $8 million bucks."

Brodeur had a big grin on his face discussing the save, and he
wasn't afraid to admit that lifting his leg came from sheer
desperation.

"I know I am beat and I know he is going to shoot it," Brodeur
said. "I might as well throw something at it. It was like their
first goal. He knew he had the open net.

"Sometimes you get lucky."

Czerkawski didn't feel so lucky.

"You can talk about a great save, but at the same time we were
unlucky," Czerkawski said. "It was a tough break, because it
could have been huge."

Brodeur also was a little lucky in the third period when Kip
Miller hit the goalpost. Alexei Yashin also missed the net in close
in the final seconds.

Sergei Brylin also scored as the Devils moved within four points
of the Islanders, who are sixth in the Eastern Conference with 16
games left.

Trailing 3-0 midway through the second period, the Islanders got
back into the game on goals by Michael Peca and Oleg Kvasha in a
32-second span.

Peca scored into an open net after taking a great cross-ice pass
from defenseman Adrian Aucoin. The power-play goal came just
seconds after the first of two Devils in the penalty box returned
to the ice.

Kvasha scored in close on a back-hander right off a faceoff that
ended up looking more like a scrum.

The Devils, who had scored one goal or less in four of their
last six games, jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first period as Gionta
and McKenzie deflected pucks past Osgood.

Jay Pandolfo set up Gionta's second goal in as many games,
stealing a pass at the point, spinning and shooting. Standing with
his back to Osgood, Gionta deflected the shot that was going wide
into the net.

McKenzie also got his third goal of the season 1:20 later, just
seven seconds after Kvasha was penalized for interference. Patrik
Elias won a faceoff and McKenzie, also standing with his back to
Osgood, deflected a point shot by Brian Rafalski into the net. That
shot also was headed wide.

The Devils, who snapped a three-game losing streak with a 3-0
win at Dallas on Sunday, made it 3-0 when Brylin beat Osgood with a
shot from the left circle at 5:31 of the second period.

Peca criticized his teammates for failing to be ready at the
start.

"It's inexcusable this time of year, in games of this
magnitude, to have someone come in and baby-sit you," Peca said.
"It's disgusting."

Game notes
Linesman Randy Mitton was clipped over the left eye with a
high stick with 11:25 to go and left the game for a few minutes.
... The Devils have sold out (19,040) their last three home games,
giving them six sellouts this season... . Devils captain Scott
Stevens played in his 1,500th game. Only seven players have
appeared in more. ... New Jersey had 22 shots, becoming only the
second team in seven games to have more than 20 vs. the Isles. ...
Devils center Jason Arnott missed the game with a back problem.
Valeri Kamensky, who didn't play two of the last six games, was
moved to center to replace him. ... Peca's power-play goal was the
Islanders' first in 30 chances with the extra man, spanning
six-plus games.