Originally created 05/08/00

Devils top Leafs; advance to finals



EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- After waiting five years, the New Jersey Devils didn't waste a minute in their rush to return to the Eastern Conference finals.

Petr Sykora scored 18 seconds after the opening faceoff and Jason Arnott got a goal 25 seconds into the second period as the Devils beat Toronto 3-0 Monday night to win the best-of-seven second-round series in six games.

John Madden added an empty-net goal with six seconds remaining to seal the victory for the Devils, who held the Leafs to a team playoff-record low six shots.

New Jersey will play the winner of the Philadelphia-Pittsburgh series, which Philadelphia leads 3-2 with Game 6 in Pittsburgh tonight. The Devils advanced past the second round for the first time since winning the Stanley Cup in 1995. The Maple Leafs did not win the NHL championship for the 33rd straight year.

Toronto has only reached the conference finals four times since its 1967 title, including last year's loss to Buffalo.

Toronto's elimination assures that the Stanley Cup will be won by a franchise from the United States for a record seventh straight season, dating to Montreal's victory in 1993. The only time U.S. teams won the Cup six years in a row was from 1936-41.

The Maple Leafs need to look no further than their top line and their power play for why they could not match the regular season success they held over the Devils. Jonas Hoglund was the only one of the trio, including Mats Sundin and Steve Thomas, to get a shot past Martin Brodeur in the series.

Toronto's previous playoff low for shots was 13 in a 3-0 loss to Philadelphia on April 15, 1975. The Leafs had three shots in the first period Monday, two in the second and just one in the third.

Brodeur was hardly tested in earning his eighth career playoff shutout and second of the series. The Devils won 1-0 at Toronto in Game 2. The Maple Leafs, 3-0-1 this season against New Jersey, failed in all 20 man-advantage situations during the six games.

It was also the fewest shots taken by a Devils opponent in a playoff game, besting the 13 by Pittsburgh in a loss last year.

The best chance the Leafs had Monday was on their first shot of the game. Igor Korolev sent a blind backhander from the slot at 7:35 that Brodeur swatted away with his glove.

Sykora got things going for the Devils on the very first shift. Curtis Joseph stopped Arnott on the initial rush and deflected the puck behind the net. Patrik Elias kicked it back out in front where Sykora dug it out of traffic in the slot and wristed his fourth goal of the playoffs past Joseph's outstretched glove at 18 seconds. The goal came four seconds shy of New Jersey's playoff record for fastest goal at the start.

Arnott got a second goal for the line just at the start of the middle frame. Sykora fired a shot wide that was corralled by defenseman Ken Daneyko, pinching in from the left point. Daneyko moved the puck behind the net to Sykora, who found Arnott in the slot. Arnott quickly put a shot between Joseph's pads at 25 seconds.

Some of the ugliness from the end of Game 5 carried over. Darcy Tucker, who along with Thomas, Brodeur and New Jersey defenseman Scott Niedermayer received penalties after the last game, got into a fight with Elias in the third period Monday. Tucker was the most active Toronto player on this night, landing several big hits that often left him without his helmet.

Joseph stopped 24 shots.