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Pandolfo Really Steps Into the Decisive Goal

Devil winger finds himself in the right place at the right time as Gionta's shot bounces off his skate past Giguere in the second period.

June 06, 2003|Jerry Crowe | Times Staff Writer

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J — EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Trotting out an age-old hockey axiom, defenseman Scott Stevens of the New Jersey Devils said late Thursday night, "When guys go to the net, good things happen."

Nobody had to remind Stevens' plucky teammate, Jay Pandolfo.

On a night when the Devils swamped the Mighty Ducks in the Meadowlands, 6-3, to move within one victory of their third Stanley Cup championship in nine seasons, the winning goal in Game 5 was scored off Pandolfo's right skate.

With 10:58 to play in the second period and the score tied, 3-3, Brian Gionta fired a shot from the right faceoff circle toward Duck goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere, and Pandolfo jetted toward the net in search of a rebound.

As the winger slammed on the brakes, digging his skates into the ice to stop short, the puck bounced off his skate and ricocheted back past Giguere into the net.

"It was a lucky goal," Pandolfo said, "but I'll take it."

For a few moments, though, it looked as though it might be taken away.

According to NHL rules, "A goal cannot be scored by an attacking player who uses a distinct kicking motion to propel the puck into the net."

Pandolfo had done no such thing, he said, and after a quick review NHL officials agreed, the league's director of officiating, Andy Van Hellemond, explaining that the goal would stand because "Pandolfo did not use a distinct kicking motion."

"I definitely didn't kick it," Pandolfo said of his first goal since May 17 and his first in three trips to the Stanley Cup finals. "I just stopped and the puck just hit off my skate and went in. I didn't think they were going to take it away because I knew I didn't make any sort of kicking motion.

"I was just trying to stop and find the puck and all of a sudden I saw it and it just hit off my foot. I didn't really try to redirect it."

And what did he think when he saw it in the back of the net?

"Pretty good feeling, obviously, to go ahead, 4-3," he said, smiling. "We're usually pretty good with the lead. We weren't early [in the game], but I didn't think we were going to let them come back again, so it was nice to get that goal."

In helping the Devils improve to 11-1 in the playoffs at Continental Airlines Arena, matching the Edmonton Oilers' 1988 record for most home playoff victories in one year, Pandolfo also had an assist in his fourth multi-point game of the playoffs.

Primarily a checking forward, Pandolfo has 11 points in 22 playoff games after registering only 17 in 68 regular-season games.

"In the playoffs," he said, "you need everyone to step up and it seems like we've had that all through the playoffs."

In a pivotal victory, Pandolfo stepped into a pivotal goal.

Coach Pat Burns, however, disputed those who would call it a lucky goal, or those who would say Pandolfo benefited from a fortunate bounce.

"It was a hard-working goal," Burns said. "He went to the net."

And good things happened.

"I'm not going to score too many pretty goals," said Pandolfo, whose fifth goal of the playoffs was his first since Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Ottawa Senators. "For me, it doesn't really make much of a difference as long as it goes into the net.

"It doesn't say, kicked-in goal, so to me it's fine."

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