Jason Spezza - The Iceman Cometh


Rookie helps Ottawa keep playoff hopes alive
By Bill Beacon / The Canadian Press

Ottawa - Rookie Jason Spezza and Martin Havlat scored in the third period to keep the Ottawa Senators' Stanley Cup hopes alive with a 3-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Monday night.

The Devils lead the best-of-seven NHL Eastern Conference final 3-2 and can still put the series away with a win in Game 6 on Wednesday night in East Rutherford, N.J. (CBC, 8 p.m. ADT).

With the score tied 1-1, Havlat jammed the puck under goaltender Martin Brodeur and into the crease. Brodeur tried to trap it with his glove, but it slid into the net when he was nudged by defenceman Richard Smehlik at 7:59 of the third frame.

"I had it under me, but I wasn't sure where it was," Brodeur said. "I think the movement of my legs kicked it in.

"We're not panicking," he added. "It's a little setback. We put ourselves in a position to have a bad game."

Spezza, playing his first NHL playoff game, assisted on that goal, then scored only four seconds into an Ottawa power play at 12:28 when he redirected a point shot by Chris Phillips into an open side, sending the flag-waving, towel swirling crowd of 18,500 into a frenzy.

It was Ottawa's first power play goal in 21 chances in the series.

"He was phenomenal," said Smolinski. "For a young 19-year-old to come into a conference final and perform the way he did, what a great individual. He's one of the best I've seen."

Added Senators coach Jacques Martin: "It's nice to see him having some success."

Todd White scored shorthanded for Ottawa 3:59 into the second period, but Scott Stevens tied the game two minutes 20 seconds later on a point shot.

The Senators, who reached the conference final for the first time in their 11-year history, had entered the game 0-6 when facing playoff elimination.

The Devils, who won the Stanley Cup in 1995 and 2000, remain 8-0 after taking a 3-1 lead in a series.

"I'm disappointed with the loss more than the effort," Devils coach Pat Burns said afterwards.

The winner of the series will face the Western Conference champion Anaheim Mighty Ducks for the Stanley Cup.

Mike Fisher had served only 10 seconds of a high-sticking penalty when Magnus Arvedson hustled to the corner to make a one-handed swipe of the puck in front that White fired past Brodeur.

Pascal Rheaume won a faceoff from Radek Bonk back to Stevens, whose shot along the ice veered off a skate and in off the far post at 9:19 of the second frame.

Burns had a unique way to put his team on guard against complacency coming into the game with a 3-1 series lead.

"We know they've probably gone through hell in the last two days," Burns said before the game.

"I told the players: You've followed the news. You watched the hazing in Illinois last week. They've probably gone through the same thing in the last couple of days. They've been kicked, pushed, their coach is on the post again. They'll react to that."

The Senators came out skating hard, but managed only two shots on Brodeur in the opening period.

And Devils' bruiser Scott Stevens slammed Marian Hossa at the blue-line, forcing the Sens' star winger to leave the game midway through the period with what the team said was a lower body injury, but returned for the second period. To make room for Spezza, the second overall draft pick of 2001, tough guy Chris Neil sat out for Ottawa.

"I just tried to go out there and play with confidence," Spezza said. " I think the first period I got the cob webs out and relaxed a the bit in the second and third and things just kind of worked for me."

Notes -The Devils outshot Ottawa 22-18. ... New Jersey is undefeated, a perfect 8-0, at home in the playoffs.

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First Round Draft Pick - 2001 Entry Draft
Jason Spezza
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