Saturday, December 2, 2000
By MARK J. CZERWINSKI, Staff Writer
EAST RUTHERFORD -- The Devils couldn't put the puck in the net
against the hapless Islanders on Friday night, even on a Patrik Elias
penalty shot in overtime.
But that was the least of their worries after the uninspiring
scoreless tie at Continental Arena. That's because center Jason
Arnott, playing so well since signing his new contract, had to go for
a CAT scan after being cross-checked to the head by Islanders
defenseman Zdeno Chara.
"I really don't know what happened," Arnott said as he was on his way
to a local hospital. "He hit me, and I came back for another shift.
But I couldn't do it. I came off because I was really woozy."
Arnott missed the whole third period, and coach Larry Robinson said
that it was all precautionary. But with the rash of concussions in
recent years, an incident such as this raises a red flag.
Chara, incidentally, was penalized on the play, but not for the hit.
After breaking his stick over Arnott's head, he closed his hand on
"It's OK to hit someone over the head with your stick, but you can't
close your hand on the puck," Robinson said sarcastically.
All this on a night when the Devils played the second scoreless tie
in franchise history. The first one was against the Buffalo Sabres on
Dec. 23, 1996.
Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur picked up his second shutout of the
season and 44th of his career. But he deserved better than a tie,
considering all the chances the Devils had.
And the biggest came 21 seconds into overtime after Islanders
defenseman Kevin Haller hauled down Elias in front of the net on a
breakaway. That set the stage for the second penalty shot of Elias'
Elias made all the right moves as he bore down on John Vanbiesbrouck,
but his backhander in close hit the outside of the post.
"I wanted to do that move," Elias said. "I had him moving out, but I
just didn't put it in. I didn't finish, that's it. I had room, but I
couldn't put it in."
"He had him beat," Robinson said. "He had him beat, and the puck just
rolled off his stick. The puck was bouncing a lot tonight."
And never in the Devils' favor. Vanbiesbrouck was solid but not
spectacular, and that's because he didn't have to be.
"We didn't play bad, but we didn't have that spark," said center
"We could've played smarter, and that would've been the difference. I
thought we played well, but not well enough to win. We drove the net,
but we didn't have that extra effort."
Also give the Islanders credit because they played a hard game, and
didn't back down when the Devils got physical. That should make for
an interesting rematch Sunday afternoon at Nassau Coliseum.
"Normally, they make mistakes," Robinson said. "They made mistakes
tonight, but we weren't able to capitalize on them."
Brodeur, who has allowed just 11 goals in his last seven games,
turned back 26 shots. Two of his best came against Claude Lapointe,
including one in the wake of Elias' failed penalty shot.
"It was a tough game for us," Brodeur said. "I don't think we played
very well, but we'll take the point."
"All I know is that it was a strange game for everyone," said Devils
captain Scott Stevens. "There was lots of room, lots of chances, but
nobody could put the puck in the net. Both power plays weren't very
good at all, and that was the story of the game."
* * *
The Devils, who came into the game with the league's top-rated power
play, failed on seven attempts.
This was the third scoreless tie this season, and the 169th in NHL
Winger Sergei Brylin sat out his second straight game with a sore
Brylin tested his knee in pregame warmups before the decision was
made to sit out.
Rookie defenseman Sascha Goc and center Steve Kelly were the healthy