Final

Series (Game 3 of 6)

New Jersey leads 5-1

Game 1: Friday, October 24th
Devils2Final
Penguins1
Game 2: Friday, November 21st
Penguins1Final
OT
Devils2
Game 3: Saturday, December 27th
Devils2Final
Penguins0
Game 4: Wednesday, January 7th
Penguins4Final
Devils2
Game 5: Tuesday, January 20th
Devils3Final
Penguins0
Game 6: Wednesday, March 17th
Penguins1Final
Devils6

Devils 2

(19-6-1, 47 pts)

Penguins 0

(8-19-3, 24 pts)

7:30 PM ET, December 27, 2003

Mellon Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

1 2 3 T
NJ 1 0 12
PIT 0 0 00

J. Pandolfo (Devils - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

J. Friesen (Devils - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

C. Schwab (Devils - G): Saves: 21, Save Pct.: 1.000

New Jersey 2, Pittsburgh 0

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Backup goaltender Corey Schwab did his best Martin Brodeur impersonation for the New Jersey Devils.

Schwab stopped 21 shots for his sixth career shutout in just his second start of the season, and Jay Pandolfo scored his first power-play goal in five seasons Saturday night as New Jersey beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-0.

"Obviously, he's in a unique situation where he's playing behind one of the best goalies of all time. But he's always ready, and when he plays he's always sharp," teammate Jeff Friesen said of Schwab, whose appearance gave Brodeur a rare night off. "It's a reflection of his work ethic."

Brodeur has eight shutouts this season.

Friesen also scored a power-play goal as the Devils moved into a tie with Philadelphia for first place in the Atlantic Division and improved to 10-2-5 on the road.

Pandolfo's eighth goal of the season was his second power-play goal in 440 career games and came on his 29th birthday. He beat goaltender Jean-Sebastien Aubin on the rebound of John Madden's shot at 9:36 of the first period.

"I didn't know what was going on," Pandolfo said of being used on the power play, "but it was nice to get that one. We were just trying to keep it simple, get some shots and go for the rebounds."

Friesen's eighth goal of the season resulted from the same formula, as he found the puck after Erik Rasmussen's shot was blocked and scored from the bottom of the right circle.

That was plenty of offense for New Jersey, which has allowed a league-low 56 goals and has given up just three goals in its last four games against Pittsburgh. It was the Devils' ninth shutout of the season.

"I try not to think about how many games it's been or how many days it's been since I played," said Schwab, whose only previous start this season came Nov. 7 in a 1-1 tie against Toronto. "It doesn't help your mind to focus in on that.

"I will accept whatever role they have for me: one game every 10 or one game every 20. These guys obviously knew I wasn't feeling as comfortable as if I was playing all the time, and they did a good job of carrying the play and not allowing many shots."

The shutout was Schwab's first since Jan. 3, and the victory was his first since he beat Pittsburgh 3-1 on March 21. He missed nine of the Devils' first 34 games with injuries.

"I wanted to play him earlier, but he was hurt," Devils coach Pat Burns said. "It's the first time he's been healthy in a while, and he had a shutout. There's not much more you can say."

The Penguins, 0-3-1-1 in their last five games, have allowed seven power-play goals in the last four games.

"We talked about being disciplined at the start of the game, and it came back to bite us," Steve McKenna said.

The closest Pittsburgh came to scoring was with 8 seconds to play in the second period, when Aleksey Morozov's shot from left circle caught the post behind Schwab. The Penguins failed on two power-play chances and are 0-for-16 over the last six games.

"We had our chances and we didn't cash in on them," Pittsburgh coach Ed Olczyk said. "Anytime you play against the defending Stanley Cup champions, it certainly is a tough task."

Aubin, making his first start since Jan. 25, stopped 26 shots for the Penguins. Sebastien Caron had started the previous seven games after No. 1 draft pick Marc-Andre Fleury was loaned to Canada for the world junior championships.

Game notes


New Jersey's Igor Larionov played his 900th NHL game. ... Pittsburgh defenseman Drake Berehowsky did not play after injuring a finger Friday night in Ottawa. ... New Jersey has won six of its last seven and 15 of its last 20 games in Pittsburgh. ... Morozov has gone 19 games without a goal. ... The Devils have lost only two road games this season, fewest in the NHL. The game was the first of a four-game road trip for New Jersey.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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