East Rutherford, New Jersey
Bronx, New York

Saturday, May 5, 2007 - Sunday, May 6, 2007

Ah, a New York City sports weekend! Fully charged from our jaunt to the Devils versus Senators game the weekend before, Jill and I decided to head back down for game five at the Meadowlands. The playoff hockey we watched the weekend before was great, and we wanted another chance to experience that again - with one big change - this time, Michael went with us. His idol is Marty Brodeur, and as we sat at the game last weekend, we realized that Michael really needed to be able to see Marty play in that building, and the energy that went along with a playoff game would make it all that much better! We snagged some seats off of StubHub (our new friend in the world of difficult tickets to find!), and then made a reservation at the Comfort Inn & Suites (211 Route 17S, Paramus, NJ 07652; Rm 238) in Paramus. We learned the hard way the weekend before that trying to make it home after the game was just to difficult. Not wanting to waste a hotel night and just head home, we began searching for another sporting event to go to on Sunday. After checking the schedules of all of the sports teams in the Tri-State area, we found there was only one team home on Sunday afternoon - none other than the New York Yankees! Michael's idol on Saturday night and historic Yankee Stadium on Sunday!

For the Devils game, we sat in section 127, row 12; for the Yankees game we sat in tier 13, row f.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -First Sid the Kid and the Pittsburgh Penguins got the boot. Now Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils are done.

It took the Ottawa Senators all of 10 games to advance to the Eastern Conference finals and finally deliver in the playoffs after a decade of disappointing failures.

Jason Spezza scored the go-ahead goal and set up another by Daniel Alfredsson in a three-goal second period as Ottawa beat the Devils 3-2 on Saturday night and won the series in five games.

"We don't want to get ahead of ourselves," Senators general manager John Muckler said. "We played awfully well this series and the Pittsburgh series. I don't think we're the same team as in the past. The chemistry in the locker room is much better. It's just a group of guys who believe in themselves and are working.

"There is a process to this winning," Muckler added. "You have to learn it. You just can't turn it on."

What the Senators did against the Devils and Penguins was play solidly in all phases. They got great goaltending from Ray Emery, outstanding play from their top line of Spezza, Alfredsson and Dany Heatley, solid defense (11 goals in five games) and timely plays from their role players.

It was all there on Saturday when Ottawa sent the Devils packing in what might've been their last game at the Continental Airlines Arena.

Emery, who showed no effects from a minor automobile accident in Ottawa on Friday, made 27 saves to cap a series in which he clearly outplayed Brodeur, who set an NHL record with 48 wins this season.

Spezza and Alfredsson got the big goals. The defense limited New Jersey to two goals or less for the third straight game, and checking line left wing Antoine Vermette ignited the big second period with a great play to set up his own goal.

"I think there were a lot of questions from a lot of people," Alfredsson said about Ottawa's reputation for posteason fades going into these playoffs. "But I felt the way we played in the regular season we could do some damage. I think after the Pittsburgh series we gained confidence and the same thing here. But we have to start over again the next round. We have to be humble, but we also know we are a good team."

The Senators will face either the Buffalo Sabres or New York Rangers in the conference final with the winner earning a trip to the Stanley Cup finals. While Ottawa has been to the playoffs the last 10 years, it has never made it to the finals. The only time they made the conference finals, the Devils beat them in seven games en route to winning the Cup.

Scott Gomez scored twice for the Devils, who have not gotten past the second round in the last three postseasons.

"You pay the price when you don't score goals also," said Brodeur, who had 21 saves. "Everything was magnified. It's fun that we're in a position that people can complain about our game. A lot of teams don't have that chance."

The three-time Stanley Cup champions Devils will start a new era next season. The team is moving to a new arena in Newark and general manager Lou Lamoriello, who fired Claude Julien as coach in the final week of the regular season, will have to hire a new coach.

"We played well," Devils center John Madden said. "We did some good things. In the first period we dominated. Second period, they scored three goals. Plays that didn't seem that dangerous turned into the back of the net."

Vermette made the biggest play of Game 5, keeping the puck in the Devils' zone early in the second period and eventually tipping a shot by defenseman Tom Preissing past Brodeur to tie the score at 1-all.

The goal took the air out of the crowd. The Senators, who were outshot 11-3 in the first period, took over from there.

Spezza put the Senators ahead a little more than a minute after Jay Pandolfo was penalized for interfering with Emery at 10:58. The center took a pass from Alfredsson along the left boards, skated into the circle and ripped a shot past a screened Brodeur.

Alfredsson, who has three goals in the last four games, scored with less than three minutes left in the second period. He took a pass from Spezza, skated into the Devils' zone and beat Brodeur with a shot between the pads, the third soft goal New Jersey's All-Star surrendered in the past two games.

"I think the (first period) intermission woke us up," Spezza said. "We knew we would not beat these guys if we played like we did in the first period and we had a great second and third period."

New Jersey dominated the opening period and finally broke through when Gomez stuffed the rebound of Patrik Elias' shot past Emery.

The Devils had their chances to add to the lead in the period but they either missed the net or couldn't get the puck past Emery. Jamie Langenbrunner missed a wide open net after Zach Parise made a move in front and Emery made a diving glove stop on Elias after a great setup by Gomez.

The Devils didn't beat Emery again until Gomez scored in the final minute with Brodeur on the bench.

NOTES: The crowd of 19,040 was only the second sellout for the Devils this season. Both came in this series. ...Coach Lou Lamoriello didn't make any lineup changes for Game 5, but he replaced right wing Sergei Brylin on the checking line with Erik Rasmussen skating with John Madden and Pandolfo. Brylin played on the fourth line with Jim Dowd and David Clarkson.

Yanks top Mariners on eventful day
Shutout victory features clearing of benches, return of Clemens
By Caleb Breakey / MLB.com

NEW YORK -- This one won't be remembered for Darrell Rasner and how he pitched 5 2/3 innings of three-hit ball. It won't be remembered for how fast Brian Bruney rushed in from the bullpen when both benches cleared. It won't even be remembered for Hideki Matsui's 2,000th career hit.

No, this one wasn't about a 5-0 baseball game that the Yankees won over the Mariners. Everything was about a 44-year-old guy sitting in George Steinbrenner's box suite at Yankee Stadium. This man could be recognized from Boston to Houston, but he wouldn't want to be in any other city than New York.

Most of the Yankees players knew something was up when they heard Elton John's "Rocket Man" playing in the clubhouse before the game. And in the seventh inning, public-address announcer Bob Sheppard asked the fans to turn their attention to the suite behind home plate. All eyes turned and saw the renowned person.

"It's a privilege to be back," Roger Clemens said over a microphone.

Clemens will suit up with the Yankees for the rest of the 2007 season after signing a prorated one-year, $28 million contract on Sunday. He is expected to start his Yankees homecoming with four starts in the Minor Leagues.

"It's exciting when you get a notice like that," Yankees right fielder Bobby Abreu said. "Like I said before, [he's] one of the best pitchers in the game, and you have him on your team. You get excited. It makes you feel happy."

Meanwhile, Rasner continued his string of recent strong pitching. He's allowed just one earned run in his last 23 1/3 combined innings of work in the Major and Minor Leagues. And his performance against the Mariners might have changed his fate with the Yankees.

Before the game, Yankees manager Joe Torre said Rasner would be sent back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to make room on the roster for right-hander Matt DeSalvo, who will get the start on Monday. But after Bruney had recorded the final out for the Yankees, Torre and Cashman acknowledged that they would meet on Monday to re-evaluate which roster moves the team would make.

Just one more hiccup in a day of drama at Yankee Stadium.

Aside from the Clemens uproar and potential roster shuffle, the Yankees and Mariners exchanged bad blood on Sunday. It all started when first baseman Josh Phelps rammed into Mariners catcher Kenji Johjima for the first run of the game in the fifth inning.

"[Seeing him] squat down tells me that he's getting ready to receive the ball," Phelps said, "and I'm not just going to let him catch the ball and tag me real quick."

Replays showed that a slide would have sufficed for the score, so the Mariners retaliated. Mariners starter Jarrod Washburn plunked Phelps in the back in his next trip to the plate.

Yankees reliever Scott Proctor threw a pitch high and inside to shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt in the seventh, prompting Betancourt to point his bat at Proctor. Both benches cleared, and in came the bullpens. Torre and Proctor were ejected by home-plate umpire Mike Everitt.

"When a guy takes out your catcher that way, you drill them, and I don't have a problem with them drilling us back," said Mariners second baseman Willie Bloomquist. "That's the way baseball is played. But don't go at a guy's head. Throwing a ball 95 mph at someone's head is taking it to a new level. Yuni had every right to be upset."

If that wasn't enough, Matsui got his 2,000th hit (combined between Japan and the Majors) in the sixth inning to become just the 46th player inducted into the Japanese "Golden Players Club," which is akin to a Hall of Fame for players in Japan. The club receives players once a certain milestone is reached; for batters, it's 2,000 hits.

Matsui's monumental double to left field didn't come in grand fashion. Mariners left fielder Raul Ibanez lost the ball in the sun, and Matsui scooted into second base for what was originally ruled an error. The Yankees left fielder joked with Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter about which one of them had a worse 2,000th hit. Jeter's came on a dribbler toward third base.

After Matsui's comment, Jeter quipped back: "At least I had to run for mine."

Total Mileage: 386 Miles

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