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Archive for Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Devils hope to close out pesky Senators at home

May 21, 2003

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— The last thing the New Jersey Devils want to do is go back to Ottawa.

That's why they are treating tonight's Game 6 against the Senators at the Continental Airlines Arena as if it's the last game of the Eastern Conference finals.

"It's something we have to put in our minds, that we need to do this now," Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur said Tuesday. "From now on, the longer you wait to take a team out the harder it is. These guys will get momentum if we don't cut it now."

The Senators picked up momentum Monday night with a 3-1 victory that cut the Devils' lead in the best-of-seven series to 3-2.

"We have to be better than we were last night," Senators center Bryan Smolinski said. "Whatever we did well, we're going to have to do better, do more, but be controlled also. Understand that it's live or die, and we give ourselves the best chance."

The Devils were kicking themselves Tuesday because they didn't match the Senators' intensity throughout Game 5 in Ottawa.

The biggest lapse came in the third period, when Ottawa scored twice and New Jersey didn't test goaltender Patrick Lalime much.

"There was zero desperation," Devils right wing Grant Marshall said. "Sure, there was some work and some good things, but we didn't play at all. We didn't play very good at all. We played their transition game. We have to get back to playing our game."

Which they should -- the Devils haven't lost at home in eight playoff games. They also have not lost consecutive games in the postseason, bouncing back after each of their three previous losses.

"I think you have to go out there and play your game," said Scott Stevens. "You can't be worried, that won't help. You have to play with confidence and want the puck."

High-scoring right wing Marian Hossa said he injured his left knee Monday night, the same one that required surgery when he was a junior in 1998. He also has been bothered by the flu.

"We know we were successful in the regular season in their building," Hossa said. "We just have to focus on one game at a time. It's a must situation for us so we have to be prepared to win the game."

The Devils are familiar with coming back from 3-1 deficits in the conference finals. They did it against Philadelphia in winning their second Stanley Cup in 2000. New Jersey won the final game in Philadelphia on a late, and somewhat lucky, goal by Patrik Elias.

"That's why you don't want a Game 7," Brodeur said. "They had a great game in Game 7 and it went off one of their D right to Patty. You have to be careful."

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