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DEVIL REPORT

Stevenson Produces in Return

June 06, 2003|Jerry Crowe | Times Staff Writer

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J — EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- His name was not Joe Nieuwendyk, but a veteran forward returned to the New Jersey Devil lineup Thursday night.

Turner Stevenson, who had been sidelined because of a groin injury, made his Stanley Cup finals debut against the Mighty Ducks, playing for the first time since Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals.

"I don't know if I'm going to change anything around," Stevenson said before Game 5 at Continental Airlines Arena. "I'm just going to go out and play like I always do -- play physical and play hard. But as far as changing momentum or anything, I'm not that good of a player to change the whole series around."

Still, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound winger left his mark, playing 12 minutes 33 seconds and assisting on Pascal Rheaume's first-period goal in a 6-3 Devil victory.

"He brings a lot of energy to the dressing room first," center John Madden said. "On the bench, he's standing up, and when he's out there he's going 100 miles an hour. And he's got fresh legs, which in a series like this you can use."

Stevenson, though, wasn't sure how long he could last.

"I can't go out there and play if I don't think I can be effective or play how I want without hurting myself," he said. "But I think it's healed enough in order to do that. Whether I'll be able to play another game after this, we'll see tomorrow."

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Nieuwendyk, unable to play in the series because of what the Devils have said is a hip injury, said the Ducks' dominance on faceoffs has been overblown.

"I know they're winning more faceoffs than we are, but sometimes that gets blown out of proportion," he said. "The game is won in the trenches.

"I watch the games. All ESPN wants to talk about is how they're destroying us on faceoffs. If you win a faceoff in the neutral zone, it's another one won, but it won't necessarily result in a goal."

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Devil defenseman Scott Stevens played in his 231st playoff game, tied with Guy Carbonneau for fourth place on the all-time list. Only Patrick Roy, Mark Messier and Claude Lemieux have played in more. Roy is the leader with 247. ... Saturday night's game at the Arrowhead Pond will be only the Devils' sixth of the season in the Pacific time zone, their fourth at the Pond.

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