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Devils Aren't the Least Bit Worried About Being Behind

May 12, 2003|From Associated Press

OTTAWA — His team trails a series for the first time this postseason after a 3-2 overtime loss to the Ottawa Senators that opened the Eastern Conference finals, but New Jersey Devil Coach Pat Burns isn't concerned.

"You don't win a series by winning one game," Burns said Sunday. "I don't think we made major mistakes. I don't think it was something where we looked stupid. I don't think they dominated us. We're not worried. We're not panicking."

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Tuesday night at Ottawa.

Burns dismissed questions that the Senators' speed and creativity might be too much for his team. In any case, the Devils will have to generate more scoring while attempting to contain an opportunistic opponent.

The Devils did show composure in Game 1 on Saturday by rallying from an early two-goal deficit, but they occasionally played a step behind.

Shaun Van Allen's game-winner came on a two-on-one rush. And the Senators had several opportunities to blow things open if not for goaltender Martin Brodeur's stellar 27-save effort.

After rolling through the first two rounds, needing five games each to eliminate Boston and Tampa Bay, the Devils face a tougher test in the Senators, who had the most points of any team during the regular season.

"I think it was a good taste to see how we are going to be able to beat them, and how we're going to need to adjust in certain areas to be more successful," Brodeur said. "We'll learn from this, we'll adjust and that's what good teams do."

The top-seeded Senators are erasing memories of past playoff exits. In eliminating the New York Islanders in five games and Philadelphia in six, Ottawa has reached the conference finals for the first time in its 11-year history.

The Senators are playing with new poise. Coach Jacques Martin credits that to lessons learned from previous playoffs. Last year, Ottawa squandered a 3-2 second-round series lead to Toronto.

"I am sure there's an awareness," Martin said. "It's something that you have to develop, and it's probably different ways it happens."

The big key is confidence, something these Senators appear to have.

"We were a top team all year," forward Mike Fisher said. "I think we went through some growing pains the last few years and really learned from that. And we realize how fun it is to win."

Devil defenseman Scott Niedermayer said that except for a bruise, he feels fine after being struck in the back of the helmet by Anton Volchenkov's shot shortly before Ottawa's winning goal.

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