Originally created 05/04/01

Maple Leafs 3, Devils 1



TORONTO -- Mats Sundin got help on offense and the Toronto Maple Leafs clamped down on defense, grittily bouncing back from two consecutive overtime playoff losses.

Sundin registered his third goal and sixth point of the Eastern Conference semifinal series, while checking center Shayne Corson and Sergei Berezin also scored, sparking Toronto's 3-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night.

The Maple Leafs evened the best-of-seven series 2-2, with Game 5 in New Jersey on Saturday.

The game was marred with 7.4 seconds remaining when Devils defenseman Scott Niedermayer was knocked cold - and had to be carted off the ice on a stretcher- by an elbow to the head from Toronto's Tie Domi.

Niedermayer was able to walk into the Devils dressing room following the game.

Devils captain Scott Stevens, in the penalty box at the time, saw the hit and reacted angrily and was issued a 10-minute misconduct. A minute earlier, Stevens traded punches with Domi in the New Jersey net.

Keying the win was the Maple Leafs' ability to revert to the defensively patient and offensively opportunistic style that won them the series opener 2-0. In between, Toronto was inconsistent - and the victim of unlucky bounces - in losing 6-5 and 3-2 in overtime.

After being outshot 110-66 in the first three meetings, the Maple Leafs clamped down, limiting the high-powered Devils to a 24 shots - and only one over the final 9:45 of the third period.

The defensive display was so impressive that it got the attention of the sold out crowd which stood and chanted during a two-minute commercial break with 2:28 remaining.

Corson played a big role at both ends of the ice. After his line shut down the Devils' top line centered by Jason Arnott through the first three games, Corson was given the challenge of taking on the second line tandem of Scott Gomez and Alexander Mogilny, who had a hand in six of New Jersey's first nine goals.

Thursday, Gomez and Mogilny failed to generate any major scoring opportunities - combining for one shot through two periods - while the Arnott line continued to struggle despite having more room to maneuver.

Devils coach Larry Robinson eventually shook up his roster, placing Mogilny with Arnott.

Corson, with his first goal of the playoffs, opened the scoring - stuffing in Darcy Tucker's rebound 14 minutes in.

The Leafs took a 2-0 lead 81 seconds into the second period when Berezin was allowed to skate in untouched from the left boards and wrap a shot around helpless goalie Martin Brodeur.

Patrik Elias scored a power-play goal, cutting Toronto's lead to 2-1 midway through the second period, but the Leafs responded 62 seconds later when Sundin blasted a shot from the right circle that caught the far corner.

The Maple Leafs, criticized for their lack of physical play, came out battling from the opening faceoff as top-line forward Gary Roberts began badgering Stevens.

With 1:12 remaining, Domi went crashing into the net and eventually began trading punches with Stevens, who then attempted to take on other Leafs.

Notes:

Devils C Sergei Brylin (bruised right knee) missed Game 4 after flying home to New Jersey for an MRI exam. Brylin, hurt in the third period of Tuesday's game when he caught a rut in the ice, has injured the same knee numerous times including this past season when he missed five games. ... C John Madden took Brylin's spot on the Devils checking line, while C Bob Corkum was inserted into the lineup for only the second time in the playoffs. ... Mennen, makers of Speed Stick deodorant, took a slap at its New Jersey customer base, taking out full-page ads in Toronto newspapers. The caption, printed below a map of New Jersey, reads: "Unfortunately, there are some smells we can't do anything about." Curiously, Mennen's U.S. headquarters are in Morristown, N.J. Mennen Canada is based in Toronto. ... The Leafs made one lineup change, sitting defensive C Alyn McCauley in favor of offensive threat RW Jonas Hoglund.