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East Rutherford, New Jersey

Saturday, April 30, 2007

This was probably one of the best games we've ever seen in person, and it further solidified the opinion that playoff hockey is where its at. Sure, you might see games here and there with this kind of intensity in the regular season, but the playoffs always seem to kick it up a notch. This game was end to end from beginning to end. Martin Brodeur was the difference in this game, at least from our vantage point. He lived up to his billing as one of the best to ever play the game, and kept the Devils in it throughout. Both teams had points where you could see they were fatigued, but somehow they found the energy to start playing again. Ottawa has been credited with having a balanced team, everyone contributing, etc, but on Saturday night the only line that really stood out (as it should) was the Spezza/Alfredsson/Heatly line.

Some other random thoughts:

- the Continental Airlines Arena is cavernous! It's a no frills/no flashy kind of place - come, sit, watch the game, drink lots of beer, go home. Many of the newer NHL rinks seem to try and appease the 'total game experience' attitude of the new NHL, and I'm sure the new rink in Newark will do this as well, but the current Devils digs is what you see - just someplace to watch hockey.

- Our seats has great sightlines and were comfortable. They were halfway up the upper deck seating bowl situated between the blue line and face off circle at the end the Senators defended twice.

- The fans, ah what to say about the fans. We've seen many games in many different venues (and this includes multiple sporting events in Philadelphia), and have never seen a more crude, rude, obnoxious, vulgur, looking to pick a fight with anyone, mouthy, and worst of all ignorant set of fans than the ones we saw the other night. They had some hockey knowledge, and I certainly wouldn't put them in the same catagory as say the 'fans' from Elmira or Wilkes-Barre, but (as an example) just because you're a Sens supporter doesn't mean you're from Canada, and even if you were, there's no reason to make it a 'USA versus Canada' kind of thing. You read about this kind of prejudice all the time in international sports, but to see it first hand kind of turns your stomach. There is a certain 'mob mentality' as well with these fans, and after an intense double overtime hockey game (where they don't stop selling beer after the second intermission) that isn't necessarily a good thing.

- It took us an hour to get out of the parking lot. Horrible traffic control, and as MrsUpstate said, I'd hate to see what it's like when they're trying to get 80,000 out of Giants Stadium if it's so bad just getting 19,000 out of the arena.

All of that being said, we're headed back this Saturday for game 5. As we sat there watching the game, we both came to the realization that our little goalie needs to be able to see his idol play in that building, so we scored up three more tickets (much more expensive than the price tag this past weekend!) and we're headed back!

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -The New Jersey Devils owned the first period and very little else. That is until Jamie Langenbrunner put a quick end to double overtime.

The Devils grabbed a two-goal lead in the opening 20 minutes and spent the rest of regulation trying to protect it. When Ottawa tied it late, there were no signs New Jersey would get back on top of the Senators again.

Langenbrunner changed that 1:55 into the second overtime when Travis Zajac sent him off on a breakaway, and the veteran forward shoved the puck past goalie Ray Emery to lift New Jersey to a 3-2 victory Saturday night.

That gave the Devils a home split of the first two games in the Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Langenbrunner got the puck in the neutral zone, fought off a hook from trailing defenseman Joe Corvo and shoved the puck past sprawled goalie Ray Emery. The puck slipped between Emery's pads as Corvo crashed into the net, knocking it off its moorings as Langenbrunner celebrated.

"It was a great play by Travis to get the puck up," Langenbrunner said. "It kind of bounced off something and found its way to my stick. I was just fortunate to find the net.

"The best thing was I didn't have enough time to think about it."

Martin Brodeur, who gave up all of Ottawa's five goals in the opener, kept the Devils in this one. He ended up with 43 saves to earn his 94th postseason victory, second only to Patrick Roy (151).

"We don't worry about Marty," Langenbrunner said. "Just when he seems to have his worst game, you know he will come up with one of his best."

Devils captain Patrik Elias returned from a one-game absence because of the flu to help set up Brian Gionta's early goal and send the Devils on their way to a tie in the best-of-seven series. It now shifts to the Canadian capital for Game 3 on Monday and Game 4 on Wednesday.

New Jersey seemed set to win it in regulation, after first-period goals by Gionta and Sergei Brylin, but Dany Heatley tied it for the Senators with 26.4 seconds left in the third.

Only once have the Devils won a series they trailed 2-0.

"If those guys won, it would have been devastating for us," Brodeur said.

The Devils controlled the first period after falling behind 4-0 in the opening 20 minutes of Game 1, but the Senators took over - outshooting the Devils 39-15 between the second period and the start of the second overtime.

New Jersey kept Ottawa on its heels by converting two of five power-play chances in the first period.

"That takes everyone kind of out of the game. It puts a lot of pressure on our goaltender and penalty killers," said forward Jason Spezza, who assisted on both Senators goals. "We're a pretty good 5-on-5 team but when we're killing penalties the whole game it's pretty tough to beat anyone."

Daniel Alfredsson started Ottawa's comeback with a power-play goal 4:23 into the second period.

As Elias watched from bed and fought a fever, Brodeur gave up all five goals Thursday in the 5-4 loss. But in his NHL-record 150th consecutive playoff start, Brodeur held off the charging Senators in the second and third periods when they held a 26-8 shots advantage.

Ottawa tied it when Spezza passed the puck out from behind the net in front to Heatley, who fired the puck past defenseman Paul Martin in the crease and by Brodeur in the closing seconds with Emery on the bench for an extra attacker.

"It was a tough situation for us to let go a lead like that late in the third," Brodeur said. "We came through again."

Until then, Brodeur made the most of a new set of equipment. He ditched the old gear after the rough Game 1 outing.

"Everything worked out well, the pads, the glove, the blocker. I felt I wanted to change," Brodeur said. "Sometimes with new equipment, you feel a little bigger in there. I felt good."

Emery made 30 saves, 14 in the first period when the Devils broke through.

Elias, the Devils' career leader in playoff points with 102, made the final dish on a four-man passing play to set up Gionta's seventh goal of these playoffs at 1:43, tying teammate Zach Parise for the NHL lead and giving New Jersey its first lead of the series.

It was the Devils' first power-play goal in four chances in the series. New Jersey enjoyed a stellar first period, outshooting the Senators 16-5. Quite a difference from Game 1.

It was such a good period this time, New Jersey savored every second. While on a long 5-on-3 power play, Brylin stretched the lead to 2-0.

Brylin squared off in the left circle with Spezza and won a faceoff. With players jostling, the puck jolted forward and ticked off Brylin's skate. Brylin lunged toward the loose puck and let it fly as he fell, sending a shot over Emery's glove as the horn and green light signaled the end of the period.

Officials went to the phone as a video review ensued. It was clear that the puck entered the net with 0.2 seconds remaining, much to the dismay of Spezza, who complained as both teams left the ice for intermission.

Alfredsson cut Ottawa's deficit to 2-1 on Ottawa's third power play. Heatley moved the puck behind the net to Spezza, who passed it to Alfredsson by the boards. The Senators captain brought it into the left circle and let go a quick drive that beat Brodeur for his fourth goal of the playoffs.

The Senators finished the period with a 14-4 shots advantage and repeated that effort in the third with a 12-4 edge.

Notes: Ottawa has never led 2-0 in a series. The Senators have won Game 1 eight times in 16 matchups, including in this year's first round against Pittsburgh. ... The game drew 19,040 fans, the Devils' first sellout of the season. ... Each team had two power-play chances in the first overtime.

Total Miles: 336 Miles

Total Miles Travelled:
162,244 Miles!

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