New Jersey 1, Ottawa 0

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., May 15 (UPI) -- Martin Brodeur stopped 24 shots for his fourth playoff shutout Thursday night as the New Jersey Devils ignored a blown call by the video replay official and grabbed the lead in the Eastern Conference finals with a 1-0 blanking of the Ottawa Senators.

The NHL breathed a huge sigh of relief after Brodeur made Sergei Brylin's first-period goal stand and helped New Jersey break a 1-1 deadlock in the best-of-seven series.


The Devils improved to 7-0 at home in front of their first sellout crowd of the playoffs. They host Game 4 on Saturday.

Brylin put the Devils in front 10:48 into the opening period with his first goal since Jan. 22. Positioned in the slot, he made a backhanded deflection of defenseman Brian Rafalski's shot from the right point, sending the puck past goaltender Patrick Lalime's stick side and inside the left goalpost.


"I thought the guy kind of tripped me a little bit. (The referee) didn't call anything, so I just got up and went in front of (Lalime), and Brian shot the puck perfectly," Brylin said.

It was the 11th career postseason goal and first since Game 5 of the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals for Brylin, who missed the last 30 games of the regular season and the opening round of the playoffs following wrist surgery.

"It feels great," he said. "I had chances and they didn't go in for me. I was just trying to stay positive and I knew that it was going to come. It was nice to get one."

The phantom goal came just over a minute later. Jamie Langenbrunner centered from a tight angle along the right side to Jay Pandolfo, who jammed the puck at Lalime.

"Right when I shot it, I thought it went through his legs," said Pandolfo, who scored in each of the first two games of the series. "I never saw it really go in. It came out so quick."

Only after play resumed following the ensuing faceoff did replays show the puck clearly went into the net.


"The in-net camera was the only angle that showed the puck had crossed the goal line and when that angle finally was available, the puck had been dropped and play had resumed," Colin Campbell, NHL executive vice president and director of hockey operations, said in a statement.

Because NHL rules state that a review must be concluded before play resumes, the goal could not be credited to the Devils.

"Clearly, despite all best efforts of all involved, a goal was scored," Campbell said. "The NHL regrets the error."

The win cushioned the blow for Pandolfo.

"It's tough to miss a call like that in the Stanley Cup conference finals," he said. "Thank God we won, that's the most important thing. Now we can forget about it."

"I imagine someone will be held accountable for it, you've got to be," New Jersey Coach Pat Burns said. "If we criticize people, our referees and what-not, we'll usually be held accountable, so I imagine someobody is going to be held accountable for that one."

The Devils did not let the controversy affect them, limiting the Senators to 11 shots over the first two periods. And when Ottawa threatened, Brodeur was there. He was at his best in the third, when he made 13 saves.


Just 90 seconds into the period, Brodeur slid to stop Radek Bonk. He denied Bonk again eight minutes later, getting his glove on a quick snap shot from the edge of the left faceoff circle.

"Those were probably the difference," New Jersey center John Madden said. "If he doesn't make those saves, we're in trouble."

Brodeur also got a piece of defenseman Wade Redden's shot from the top of the left circle with 8:15 to play, then helped New Jersey kill an interference penalty on defenseman Tommy Albelin with 3:20 remaining.

The Senators are none for 11 on the power play in this series after going 10 for 53 in the first two rounds.

Two nights after suffering a left knee injury, Redden wore a brace and led Ottawa in ice time at just over 24 minutes.

Brodeur had some help. With 15:22 to go in the second period, Martin Havlat and Bryan Smolinski were alone in front of the net. Havlat passed up a seemingly open shot and fed Smolinski, whose return pass was broken up by New Jersey's Jim McKenzie.

"I got the pass and it just surprised me," Smolinski said. "And then I tried to pass it back to him because he would have had an open cage. The puck was really spinning and it spun off my stick. It's just one of those crazy things that happens."


On a night full of strange bounces, the Senators nearly silenced the crowd 4 1/2 minutes into the game.

Smolinski's dump-in took an odd carom off the right boards, trapping Brodeur behind the net. But the puck spun inches wide of the left goalpost.

"That's a bad feeling," Brodeur admitted. "I was behind the net and looking at it. I couldn't believe it didn't go in. Sometimes you need breaks like that to get yourself warm and wake up a little bit."

Lalime made 23 saves for the top-seeded Senators, who have lost consecutive games for the first time in the postseason.

"We only had so many chances in the first couple of periods and we have to find ways to get more shots on Brodeur," Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson said. "They played real good defensively and they are a real good trap team. It's hard to get past that trap, and they took an awful lot of energy away from us.

"It's not a question of us needing to work harder, but we certainly have to get smarter."

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