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Devils hold Panthers to 15 shots on goal

3/25/2002

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- For at least one game, the New
Jersey Devils found a new top line.

Joe Nieuwendyk set up goals by linemates Patrik Elias and Jamie
Langenbrunner to lead the Devils to a 3-1 victory over the Florida
Panthers on Monday night.

"Jamie plays extremely hard and Joey is a smart player, so it
looks like we can get something going here," Elias said. "We just
have to stay healthy."

The Devils broke up their top line of Elias, Petr Sykora and
Jason Arnott last week when Arnott was traded to Dallas in a deal
that brought Nieuwendyk and Langenbrunner to New Jersey.

Elias missed their first two games with the Devils because of
the flu and he played on another line Saturday.

Coach Kevin Constantine put him with Nieuwendyk and
Langenbrunner on Monday and the decision yielded instant benefits.

"We're pleased with today and we have another one in a couple
of nights, so it was a good start for us," said Nieuwendyk, who
has one goal and four assists in four games with New Jersey.

Constantine isn't sure whether Elias will stay on the line.

Sykora has missed the last four games with the flu, and it is
uncertain where he will play when he returns.

Langenbrunner snapped a 1-1 tie just 18 seconds into the third
period by putting in the rebound of Elias' shot.

John Madden added a breakaway goal in the final minute, and the
Devils limited Florida to 15 shots against Martin Brodeur in
winning for the sixth time in eight games, and sending the Panthers
to their fifth straight loss.

"I feel really fortunate playing with two world-class players
like that," Langenbrunner said of his new linemates. "We had a
lot of opportunities tonight. With luck, we could have had a few
more (goals)."

Coupled with the New York Islanders' 4-2 win over the New York
Rangers, the Devils stayed two points behind the Islanders in the
race for sixth place in the Eastern Conference.

New Jersey has 10 games left, one fewer than the Islanders.

Ivan Novoseltsev scored a short-handed goal for Florida, which
extended its franchise-record road losing streak to nine games.
Only a spectacular 34-save performance by Trevor Kidd kept the game
close.

"I'm trying to get the game into the third period to give us a
chance to win," Kidd said. "I've done that the last three
games."

Elias gave the Devils a 1-0 lead at 27 seconds of the second
period with a super 1-on-1 move. Nieuwendyk set up the power-play
goal with a cross-ice pass. Kidd came out of the net to challenge
Elias, but he was deked out of position. Elias stuffed the puck
into an open net for his 24th goal.

The Devils had a great chance to expand the lead when Panthers
defenseman Brad Ference got a double minor for high-sticking Jim
McKenzie at 7:00.

However, Olli Jokinen caused Elias to turn the puck over at the
Panthers blue line, right after the faceoff, and Novoseltsev beat
Brodeur on a breakaway. His backhander hit the goalpost, caromed
off Brodeur's back and crawled into the net for Novoseltsev's first
career short-handed goal.

Madden scored with 30 seconds left.

Elias, Nieuwendyk and Langenbrunner were put together late
Saturday in a 4-2 loss to Carolina.

Game notes
Devils center Bobby Holik was suspended for the game for a hit
on Rod Brind'Amour on Saturday. Scott Gomez took over at center and
Valeri Kamensky played the wing on his line. ... Sykora missed his
fourth straight game with the flu. ... The Panthers got the best of
Devils tough guy Jim McKenzie in two fights. Rocky Thompson had an
edge in a first-period fight, and then Peter Worrell pounded him in
the second. ... The Panthers' previous worst road-losing streak was
seven in 1998.