for this game

Brodeur, Gomez give Devils upper hand in quarterfinals

Apr 21, 2007 - 4:44 AM
EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- Martin Brodeur and the vaunted defense of the New Jersey Devils would not let a two-goal lead slip away two times in a row.

Brodeur made 31 saves for his 22nd career playoff shutout and Scott Gomez scored a goal and set up two others to lead the Devils to a 3-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the pivotal fifth game of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.

Rookie defenseman Andy Greene and Brian Gionta also scored for the Devils, who can advance to the conference semifinals with a win at Tampa Bay on Sunday afternoon.

The victory also assured that the game would not be the Devils' final appearance at Continental Airlines Arena. The team will move into the new Prudential Center in Newark next season.

New Jersey, which squandered a two-goal advantage in the second period of Game Four before winning in overtime, grabbed the lead in this one on Greene's first career playoff goal with 7:14 left in the first period. The blue-liner unleashed a one-timer from the left point through traffic and between goaltender Johan Holmqvist's pads for all the offensive support Brodeur needed.

"I was trying to put it on net and it had some eyes and found its way through the five-hole," Greene said.

With leading goal-scorer Zach Parise in the locker room for a short respite after getting hit in the skate with a puck, Michael Rupp stepped up, feeding Greene for the shot after taking a pass from Gomez. Rupp, in his second tour of duty with New Jersey, stepped in during the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals for an injured Joe Nieuwendyk and scored the championship-winning tally in Game Seven.

"I heard Greener (call for the puck) and I thought I would throw it back to him," Rupp said. "He made a great shot."

In the final two minutes, Rupp engaged in one of the two fights initiated by the Lightning, battling enforcer Andre Roy. In the other tussle, defenseman Nolan Pratt took on Jamie Langenbrunner.

"They're trying to show they're in the series and they want to compete," Rupp said. "That kind of situation happens a lot in all the series. When a team wins a pivotal game, there's emotions involved, and that's the way a lot of guys respond."

The emotions also were evident on Tampa Bay's bench, as coach John Tortorella was shouting with Devils assistant John MacLean during the fight and traded expletives with a media member in an abbreviated postgame news conference.

Gionta netted his third goal of the series to double New Jersey's advantage midway through the second period, beating Holmqvist to the glove side with a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle during a 2-on-1 rush. The play was started by defenseman Brian Rafalski's breakout pass to Gomez, who sprung Gionta on the break with captain Patrik Elias.

"We didn't sit back, even though it looked like we didn't have many shots," Gomez said. "We wanted to go. We wanted to get it in (the offensive zone) as much as possible."

The Devils took a penalty 2:19 into the game, but John Madden nearly put New Jersey ahead. However, Holmqvist made a sprawling left pad save on the veteran's chance during a shorthanded breakaway to keep the contest scoreless.

The Lightning countered with a shorthanded chance of their own a few minutes later, but Brodeur kicked away Ryan Craig's shot from close range off a 2-on-1 rush.

Brodeur also got help from Greene and fellow defenseman Richard Matvichuk, both of whom smothered high-quality scoring chances in the first. As the Lightning stepped up the pressure in the second, they watched Brodeur continually deny their opportunities.

"It's a snowball effect on how the team plays," Brodeur said. "When your big guys are making the right plays at the right time, the other guys don't want to let everybody down. It's contagious. When your goalie makes a couple of saves early in the game, it wakes up everybody."

Tampa Bay continued the onslaught in the third. Martin St. Louis set the tone with an early blast from the left circle, and Vaclav Prospal had a pair of chances from the top of the crease denied during a power play in the first six minutes. With the Lightning shorthanded, Vincent Lecavalier rang a slap shot off the right goalpost with 4:43 remaining.

"Vinny beat me clean on that shot and it hit the post," Brodeur said. "A couple of games ago. that would have hit the post, probably hit my back and gone in."

"I thought he played as good as he did the other night," St. Louis said. "He's that caliber of goalie. We feel really good about the way we played tonight. We play that way another game, and we'll be here for Game Seven."

After uncharacteristically allowing three goals in each of the first four games if the series, including several of the soft variety, Brodeur resembled his usual self in this one. The two-time Vezina Trophy winner and three-time Stanley Cup champion turned aside eight shots in the first period, 14 in the second and nine in the third to climb within one of Hall of Famer Patrick Roy for first place on the all-time postseason shutout list.

"He played well. He was out challenging, he was in the zone tonight," Tampa Bay's Brad Richards said. "He had a great game. That's what he does. They always block shots well. The foundation of their team is to take away the middle of the ice. It's great to know you have him back there, too. They rely on him to do some things that a lot of goalies don't do."

Brodeur also moved into a tie for second with Grant Fuhr with his 92nd career playoff victory. Roy is first with 151 triumphs.

Gomez, who scored in overtime to give the Devils a 4-3 win in Game Four, sealed the win with an empty-netter late in the third.

Pressing to get on the board, Tortorella continued to give Richards, Lecavalier, St. Louis and Prospal extended ice time, to no avail. Despite a quick turnaround for Sunday afternoon's contest, Richards does not believe fatigue will not be an issue.

"I'm fine, we're fine," he said. "It's short term. It's just about winning one hockey game. I felt great tonight, and I think the other guys did, too. It didn't matter how much we were on the ice. When you get momentum and you keep going out and you just go play, it's fun."








  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TAMPA BAY 0 0 0 0
    NEW JERSEY 1 1 1 3 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NJD - ANDREW GREENE 1 (MIKE RUPP, SCOTT GOMEZ) 12:46
    2ND PRD: NJD - BRIAN GIONTA 3 (SCOTT GOMEZ, BRIAN RAFALSKI) 9:59
    3RD PRD: NJD - (EN) SCOTT GOMEZ 2 (PATRIK ELIAS) 18:13
    POWER-PLAY CONVERSIONS: TAM - 0 O

    Apr 20 9:31 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL TAMPA BAY 0
    NEW JERSEY 3
    3RD PRD: NJD - (EN) SCOTT GOMEZ 2 (PATRIK ELIAS) 18:13

    Lightning vs. DevilsApr 20 9:24 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TAMPA BAY 0 0 0
    NEW JERSEY 1 1 2 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NJD - ANDREW GREENE 1 (MIKE RUPP, SCOTT GOMEZ) 12:46
    2ND PRD: NJD - BRIAN GIONTA 3 (SCOTT GOMEZ, BRIAN RAFALSKI) 9:59
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TAM 8

    Apr 20 8:36 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL TAMPA BAY 0
    NEW JERSEY 2
    2ND PRD: NJD - BRIAN GIONTA 3 (SCOTT GOMEZ, BRIAN RAFALSKI) 9:59

    Lightning vs. DevilsApr 20 8:18 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TAMPA BAY 0 0
    NEW JERSEY 1 1 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NJD - ANDREW GREENE 1 (MIKE RUPP, SCOTT GOMEZ) 12:46
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TAM 8 8
    NJD 5 5
    GOALIES: TAM - JOHAN HOL

    Apr 20 7:43 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL TAMPA BAY 0
    NEW JERSEY 1
    1ST PRD: NJD - ANDREW GREENE 1 (MIKE RUPP, SCOTT GOMEZ) 12:46

    Lightning vs. DevilsApr 20 7:33 PM