Series (Game 4 of 5)

New Jersey leads 3-2

Game 1: Thursday, October 11th
Game 2: Wednesday, December 12th
Game 3: Tuesday, January 29th
Game 4: Wednesday, March 13th
Game 5: Monday, April 1st

Islanders 2

(32-24-3, 74 pts)

Devils 3

(29-25-3, 70 pts)

7:30 PM ET, March 13, 2002

IZOD Center, East Rutherford, New Jersey

1 2 3 T
NYI 0 2 02
NJ 2 1 03

M. Brodeur (Devils - G): Saves: 18, Save Pct.: .900

B. Rafalski (Devils - D): Goals: 0, Assists: 2

B. Gionta (Devils - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Brodeur continues to lead Devils in playoff hunt

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.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press