Originally created 06/03/01

Devils win despite loss of Arnott



EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils won the game they said they had to win to retain any chance of keeping the Stanley Cup -- and now the finals are a best-of-three series.

Petr Sykora, skating without injured linemate Jason Arnott, scored the winning goal with 2:37 to play after a slumping Scott Gomez had tied it earlier in the period, and the Devils rallied twice to beat the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 Saturday night in Game 4.

"That was the game we needed, and we got it," Devils defenseman Scott Stevens said. "It's never over -- not with this team."

The Devils dominated play for most of the game, outshooting the Avalanche 35-12, but didn't solve Colorado goalie Patrick Roy until midway through the third period.

"We tired them out, and then we started getting chances," Stevens said.

Now, the finals shift to Denver for Game 5 on Monday. Game 6 will be Thursday at New Jersey, with a Game 7, if necessary, on Saturday in Denver, where the teams split two games last week.

"We've got to put this behind us right now," Colorado coach Bob Hartley said. "Now, it's a best-of-three and we still have home ice. We came here and got a split, and we have look at the positive side."

The Devils played the final two periods without A-Line center Jason Arnott, who was taken to a hospital for tests after being struck on the left side of his head by a puck a few seconds into the game.

Even without Arnott, the A-Line came alive for the first time in the series, with Sykora and Patrik Elias each scoring goals in a game the Devils said they couldn't lose without almost certainly handing over the cup they won last season.

Sykora won the game after Colorado defenseman Rob Blake couldn't control the puck along the boards in his own end. Elias managed to feed Sykora skating down the slot and he beat Roy for the Devils' biggest goal of the season and his ninth of the playoffs.

"This was the best game we've played in the playoffs," Brian Rafalski said. "Now we've got to carry it over to Monday."

With Colorado leading 2-1 in the third period but New Jersey getting nearly all the scoring chances, Roy -- almost flawless until then -- made his second misplay in two games, and it cost the Avalanche the tying goal.

Roy went behind the net to play a bouncing puck but fumbled it off his stick directly to Jay Pandolfo, who slipped it to Gomez in front of the abandoned net. Gomez put it in at 8:09 of the third for his first goal in the last 13 playoff games.

"We all saw what happened," Hartley said. "The puck popped out, and there wasn't much he (Roy) could do about it. But he was outstanding, just as he's been throughout the whole playoffs."

Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur said, "It's great to finally see a break go our way, for probably the first time in the series. We've had a tough time against these guys. But we've got momentum now. It changes the cards, no doubt about it."

Gomez was benched for most of the third period of the Avalanche's 3-1 victory in Game 3, but, apparently getting coach Larry Robinson's pointed message, came out skating hard and got his fifth goal of the playoffs.

The game before, Roy strayed far from the net to play a puck along the boards, couldn't get back fast enough and saw Elias ring a shot off a post.

Colorado went more than 13 minutes without a shot and at one point had only two shots in 26 minutes, only to take a 2-1 lead on Chris Drury's goal at 13:54 of the second.

Less than a minute after Alexander Mogilny's hard slap shot ricocheted off both the crossbar and the right post without going in, Drury got free one-on-one against defenseman Sean O'Donnell in the Devils' zone and, switching from his backhand to his forehand, steered the puck over Brodeur for his 10th of the playoffs.

New Jersey had tied it short-handed earlier in the period on Elias' first goal in nine Stanley Cup finals games. With New Jersey controlling the puck even while down a man, Sykora fed the puck across the slot to Elias, who slipped it past Roy at 3:42 -- the first short-handed goal against Colorado in the playoffs.

Despite managing only eight shots in the first two periods -- the lowest in a Stanley Cup finals game since Boston had seven in a 1988 game -- the Avalanche wasted a succession of chances to build on the lead by going 0-for-5 on the power play.

Colorado had taken a 1-0 lead only 3:58 into the game when Alex Tanguay carried the puck out and drew defensemen Scott Niedermayer and Scott Stevens to him, allowing Blake to drive in alone and beat Brodeur up high as the goaltender went down to play the puck.

Later in the period, with two players off for both sides, the teams skated 3-on-3 -- a rarity during the playoffs -- for 49 seconds, with Colorado defenseman Ray Bourque missing an open net on a Drury rebound. After that, the Avalanche didn't get a shot for nearly 12 minutes.

Arnott, who had four goals in last year's finals against Dallas, took a puck off the left side of his face just after the game's opening faceoff.

Arnott immediately skated to the Devils' bench, where he collapsed briefly before being taken to the dressing room. He returned a few minutes later and began taking shifts again, although he appeared to be skating much more tentatively than normal. He played 3 minutes, 41 seconds in the period, but didn't play again the rest of the game.

Notes: New Jersey is 14-8 in the playoffs. No team has ever won the cup with more than seven losses. ... Colorado is 6-3 on the road during the postseason. ... The Devils are 2-3 at home in the last two finals. ... Roy lost for the first time in his last six Stanley Cup finals road games.