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Belfour Holds Devils to Tie

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
Score Sheet | Statistics

EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (CP) -- EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - A couple of hours after helping to raise the New Jersey Devils' third championship banner since 1995, Sergei Brylin salvaged their home opener with seconds to spare.

Brylin, one of four current Devils to play on all three championship teams, scored with two seconds left in regulation to give New Jersey a 2-2 tie with the Toronto Maple Leafs. "Both things were great," Brylin said of his pre-game and late-game accomplishments. "At the end of the game, a goal is more important than anything else. The banner was up already, so that was good thing, too."

Brylin gave much of the credit for the late-game heroics to defenceman Brian Rafalski, who set up his goal and another in the first period by Jay Pandolfo.

With the clock winding down in regulation and goaltender Martin Brodeur on the bench for an extra skater, Rafalski carried the puck into the right corner and feathered a pass across the crease. Patrik Elias swatted at the puck, and then Brylin popped it into the net.

"Brian made a great play," Brylin said. "He faked the guy out. He was so patient. He knew there are three or four seconds left in the game. That was an unbelievable play."

Aki Berg checks the Devils'Grant Marshall.
(Getty Images/NHLI)
Rafalski smiled when asked about his patience.

"I knew there was no chance of me getting the shot through," Rafalski said. "I had to create a different lane. Even if there were two seconds left, I would have done the same thing."

The late goal spoiled a great performance by Ed Belfour, who made 31 saves.

Belfour said he didn't have a chance on Brylin's goal.

"It was just one of those things with two seconds," Belfour said. "The puck is bouncing around like a pinball and it ended up going in for them."

Nik Antropov and Darcy Tucker scored second-period goals for the Maple Leafs, who were outshot 15-3 in the first period.

"We were running around a little bit," Belfour said. "I wasn't playing the puck as well as I should back there with the defence. They had good pressure on us and we bobbled the puck a few times."

The only reason the Devils didn't come away with two points was Belfour stopped Jamie Langenbrunner on three chances from close range in overtime.

Tucker had given the Maple Leafs the lead late in the second period. He took a nifty pass from rookie Matt Stajan, spun around and ripped a shot past Brodeur, whose only busy period was in the second, when he faced 10 shots.

Antropov had tied the score at 1-1 about six minutes earlier, putting the rebound of a Tom Fitzgerald shot between Brodeur and the post.

Pandolfo gave New Jersey the lead by deflecting a shot by Rafalski into the net 4:48 after the opening faceoff. New Jersey had the first 10 shots.

Notes: Devils D Scott Stevens played in his 1,600 NHL game, only the sixth player to reach the milestone. . . . The Oct. 16 home opener was the latest in a non-strike season. . . . Toronto RW Alexander Mogilny missed the game with a groin injury. . . . Devils C Igor Larionov, who had three assists in the first two games, missed the game with a knee injury sustained in practice Wednesday.
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