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It's Oh-So Odd, but He'll Take It

Everyone, especially Brodeur, is a little confused on key goal by Ozolinsh, who doesn't see it go in.

June 01, 2003|Lisa Dillman | Times Staff Writer

He might have been the last man on his team, the last player on the ice, or quite frankly, the last person in the Arrowhead Pond to know he had scored one of the most improbable goals of the playoffs.

Of course.

Especially when his shot wasn't really intended to be a shot. He was trying to create something out of nothing in the second period from the neutral zone, trying to get the puck deep and maybe generate a scoring opportunity.

Opportunity, thy name is Sandis Ozolinsh.

The Mighty Duck defenseman was the beneficiary of Devil goaltender Martin Brodeur's mammoth miscue at 14:47 of the second period. Well, one way to look at it -- one man's misery is another one's joy.

Ozolinsh's goal, and second point of the game, gave the Ducks a one-goal lead en route to their 3-2 overtime victory against New Jersey in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals on Saturday.

"We'll take them any way we can get them," Duck defenseman Kurt Sauer said.

"That's the way you do it. Against these guys, we need everything."

Duck Coach Mike Babcock concurred, saying; "I thought that was the break we needed."

Even some of the Ducks looked perplexed on the bench as they watched the replay of the bizarreness unfolding when Brodeur lost his stick and turned into an utterly helpless figure as the puck found its way into the net.

Sauer, who was on the ice, was not one of the individuals having to do a double-take.

"I didn't blink twice," he said, smiling, afterward in the Duck dressing room. "I was happy. I don't even know if Ozo knew what happened right way. I saw it go in and so I go over to Ozo, and I think he was turned around.

"He kind of gave me a 'I don't know what happened.' "

Guilty, Ozolinsh said.

"I really didn't see it going in," Ozolinsh said. "Somebody hit me and I spun around and I heard the crowd cheering around and I said, 'Somebody scored, who?'

"Lucky break. We'll take many of those."

Said Duck defenseman Keith Carney: "I like it. I'd like to see more."

Ozolinsh said his previous strangest goal came long ago, back when he was playing with the San Jose Sharks. But he could not remember the luckless goaltender of that game.

"First year in NHL, it took a lot more bounces around," he said. "It came out off the back boards, hit somebody in front of the net and went in between the goalie's legs. We played Vancouver."

Ozolinsh led the Ducks, along with Mike Leclerc, with four shots on goal. He played 24 minutes and 52 seconds and was one of the catalysts to get the Ducks back in the series, helping cut New Jersey's lead to 2-1 in the best-of-seven finals.

He has a way of scoring timely goals. His only other goal of this postseason came on May 5, with the series-clincher at 18:54 of the third period against Dallas in Game 6.

"We had not tested Brodeur in the first two games," Ozolinsh said. "Sixteen shots is not much to really see what the goalie can do.... If you want to be successful, you've got to do more than 30 shots, like we did today."

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