- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 25, 2000


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. Was the Eric Lindros experiment a success? So far it hasn't produced what was sought, but the final result won't be known until tomorrow night when Philadelphia hosts New Jersey in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.

The Devils forced a deciding game when Claude Lemieux and Alexander Mogilny scored in the third period, powering New Jersey to a 2-1 victory and a 3-3 draw in the best-of-7 series. The eastern representative in the Stanley Cup will now be decided in a one-game tournament tomorrow night at the First Union Center in Philadelphia.

If the Flyers lose, it will be only the second time in their history they have blown a 3-1 advantage in the playoffs. The first time was in 1988 when Dale Hunter led Washington back, scoring the series-winner in overtime of the seventh game, beating Ron Hextall.

Lindros scored Philadelphia's only goal but that came with just 31 seconds left in the game on only the 13th shot the Flyers managed to get through to goalie Martin Brodeur. He lofted a shot into the near side, beating Brodeur, who appeared to be distracted for a split second, just long enough to lose his shutout.

In fact, Philadelphia had just four shots in the first period and only two in the second a tough chance by John LeClair with 2:24 left in the period and a shot by Lindros as time expired. The game was similar to the Devils' May 8 second-round victory over Toronto, 3-0, in which the Maple Leafs got only six shots on goal for the entire game.

New Jersey lost games 2, 3 and 4 to the Flyers, mainly because of a lack of defense and Brodeur's inability to single-handedly bail his teammates out. The goalie allowed 11 goals in three games, more than he usually gives up in a few weeks worth of games.

Lemieux, who has made a career out of being a nuisance, scored at 11:26 of the third at the end of a flurry in front of rookie Flyers goalie Brian Boucher. He backhanded the puck into the net, his fourth playoff goal this season and the 80th of his career.

Mogilny's goal was also a backhander. This time a loose puck in front that was out of Boucher's reach and with no teammate nearby able to help. It came at 16:33 and got a while it appeared it would be nothing more than insurance.

But Lindros, who hadn't played in 10 weeks due to his third concussion this season and the fifth of his career, brought the Flyers to within one with 31 seconds left. But that was as close as Philadelphia could get, the conservative brand of hockey it played for the first 50 minutes of the game proving costly.

Lindros was wearing a new mouth guard described as more protective (It should help; I'll try anything") and a brand new helmet, albeit the same model (a Bauer 5000) as the one he had been wearing when he sustained the three concussions this season.

Notes Boucher stopped a Scott Gomez shot with the wire mask protecting his face at 17:58 of the first. It was scary for a moment because the goalie fell to the ice and appeared to be hurt. The puck was actually lodged in the wire and had to be pried out; if the wire hadn't been there, the goalie would have been hit squarely in the right eye… . Devils center John Madden returned after missing three games with a knee injury, taking the place of center Sergei Nemchinov who couldn't make it back after colliding with an exposed piece of plexiglas in Monday's game. Nemchinov needed 40 stitches to close his wound but his face is still so swollen he can't get his helmet on… . Philadelphia left wing John LeClair had the protective visor removed from his helmet; he took 39 stitches in the face after being hit in Game 3… . Flyers center Peter White was scratched to make room for Lindros. Ramsay must feel secure in his job; White is GM Bob Clarke's son-in-law.

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