Originally created 04/21/00

Devils, Flyers advance to semifinals



SUNRISE, Fla. -- Martin Brodeur and New Jersey's stifling defense held the Florida Panthers to one goal for the third straight game Thursday night, ending the Devils' first-round playoffs woes.

Brodeur made 33 saves and Sergei Nemchinov scored twice in the final four minutes as New Jersey beat Florida 4-1 to sweep the best-of-seven series.

The Devils advanced to the second round for the first time since 1997. The Panthers, who fell to 1-12 in their past 13 playoff games, continued to struggle offensively in Game 4 despite getting their most scoring opportunities of the series.

Florida snapped an 0-for-10 drought on the power play with the game's first goal.

Pavel Bure beat Brodeur with a slap shot from just outside the left circle to give Florida a 1-0 lead at 5:19 of the first period. Bure slipped the shot under a sliding Ken Daneyko and between Brodeur and the right post.

It was Bure's first goal of the playoffs. The Russian Rocket led the league with 58 goals during the season, but the Devils -- primarily using Scott Stevens to shadow Bure -- limited his shots and open skating space in the series.

Mike Vernon kept the Panthers ahead in the opening period, stopping 17 shots -- including one-on-one saves against Jason Arnott and Claude Lemieux.

FLYERS 5, SABRES 2:

In Philadelphia, Buffalo kept stalling and stalling, expecting Dominik Hasek to steal a game. While they were waiting, the Flyers swiped the series.

The Flyers scored two relatively soft goals against the NHL's premier playoff goaltender, one by Dan McGillis and the other set up by him, and closed out the Sabres in Game 5 of their first-round series.

McGillis' long slap shot sailed by Hasek with eight seconds left in the first period, and his floater from just inside the blue line was redirected by John LeClair for the go-ahead goal midway through the second period.

Those are the kind of goals Hasek seldom allows in the postseason, especially last season when his strong play carried the Sabres to the Stanley Cup finals.

Daymond Langkow made it 3-1 slightly more than three minutes after LeClair's goal, an advantage much too big to overcome for a star-less offense that scored eight goals in the five games.

Simon Gagne also scored a power-play goal at 9:55 of the third period after Stu Barnes' goal had briefly cut the Flyers' lead to 3-2. The Flyers, who had the second-best power play during the season, scored nine of their 14 goals in the series on the power play