- The Washington Times - Friday, May 16, 2003

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Martin Brodeur recorded his fourth shutout of the playoff season last night and checking center Sergei Brylin got him the only goal he needed midway through the first period as the New Jersey Devils defeated the Ottawa Senators 1-0 last night, holding a younger, swifter, more offensive team at bay.

The win was the second straight for the Devils and gave them a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference finals. Game4 is at Continental Airlines Arena tomorrow afternoon, with Game5 Monday in Ottawa. The winner advances to the Stanley Cup Finals.

The game was announced as a sellout of 19,040, but the crowd appeared at least a few thousand short of that. Those who didn’t show missed seeing the Devils win their seventh straight at home, tying a club record.

The Devils also scored a goal at 12:10 of the first period, but it wasn’t counted because nobody saw it slip through Patrick Lalime’s legs and dart back out after glancing off the inside of the cage. The goal was picked up by an ESPN camera positioned inside the net, and the league later apologized for the error.

Brylin’s goal that counted came at 10:48 of the opening period, and the center was one of the last to see it go into the net past Lalime’s right arm. Defenseman Brian Rafalski was at the right point and passed the puck into the slot area. Brylin, standing with his back to the cage about 18 feet in front of the goalie, reached down with his stick and redirected it. The fans’ reactions were the first indication Brylin got that his shot was good.

It was the eighth game of the playoffs for Brylin, who fractured a wrist Feb.5 against the Washington Capitals at MCI Center. He missed 30 regular-season games and the first round of the playoffs. His game-winner was his first goal of the postseason.

The non-goal was put behind Lalime by left wing Jay Pandolfo and would have given the defensive forward scores in three straight games had it counted. Pandolfo approached the crease from the left side and was nearly in the paint before he accepted a pass and shot.

The replay clearly showed the puck entering the cage, glancing off the bottom of the frame and spurting out as quickly as it went in. However, there was no reaction from the Devils, the Senators, the goal judge immediately behind the glass, the fans with the best view or Kerry Fraser, the referee closest to the play.

“There was no indication from anyone on the ice that the puck had gone in,” said Colin Campbell, the league’s director of hockey operations, “and there was no indication from any of the initial camera angles that the puck had crossed the goal line. The in-net camera was the only angle that showed the puck crossed the goal line.”

By the time NHL officials saw that angle, play had stopped once and then resumed. Rules 57g and 93 stipulate that once play has resumed following a stoppage, no goal may be allowed or disallowed.

But the specter of a good goal not being counted because of a league error hung over the arena until the final score was in. The thought that the Devils might lose the game in overtime apparently terrified NHL officials, as well as the Devils.

“At one point in time, you’ve got to make them forget it,” New Jersey coach Pat Burns said of the non-goal and his team’s reaction at the time, “Including myself. I was a little upset that it wasn’t called. And that’s the thing, trying to keep everybody under the impression we can’t worry about it. You say what you have to say, and after that you let go of it. We said, ‘That’s it, there’s no more discussion.’”

Ottawa felt the missed goal was its opportunity to zero in on Brodeur, and the Senators fired 13 shots at the goalie in the third period, more than double what the team had in the first two. But Brodeur answered with his 17th career playoff shutout, second on the all-time list.

“We just said, ‘There’s nothing we can do about it now,’” Devils defenseman Scott Stevens said of the non-goal. “We said, ‘It was too late.’ We just kept our focus, said, ‘Forget it, it’s over,’ and kept playing hard.”

Notes — The Caps said yesterday they signed defenseman Josef Boumedienne, 25, to a one-year contract. Boumedienne has two NHL goals in his 10 league games, one for the Caps and one against. He scored the overtime winner March25 against Montreal, the day he was called up from Portland, Maine. On Oct.6 2001, he scored against Olie Kolzig while a member of the New Jersey Devils. The Caps obtained him on Dec.16 in a deal with Ottawa. …

A league source acknowledged that the two-man disadvantage that the Caps were handed in Game3 of their opening series against Tampa Bay probably would not have happened if the second penalty involved — Ken Klee’s elbowing infraction — had been called first. In other words, if Klee were already in the penalty box, the roughing penalty against Jaromir Jagr probably would have been overlooked.

Too late now — the Lightning won the game, 4-3. But the source also acknowledged that the double minor against Olie Kolzig never should have been called. It resulted in a power play goal for Tampa Bay in a game it won by one goal. …

Senators defenseman Wade Redden, laid out in Game2 when he went knee to knee with Devils right wing Turner Stevenson, made it into last night’s game. He had an MRI which disclosed no ligament damage, and the defenseman said “a little strain” wasn’t enough to keep him sidelined during the semifinals of the playoffs. Stevenson, however, wasn’t so lucky. He missed the game with a groin problem, the same ailment which forced him to miss two games in the opening playoff series against Boston. Former Cap Jim McKenzie was inserted into the lineup in Stevenson’s place. …

This is optimism. The Minnesota Wild, which is down 3-0 in its Western Conference final and hasn’t so much as scored a goal against Anaheim, had two scouts in the building last night (one of them former Cap Doug Jarvis) studying possible Eastern Conference opposition in the finals. The Ducks didn’t bother to send anybody. That’s confidence.

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