Staying calm turned the most exciting play in hockey into one of the easiest goals of Scott Niedermayer's career.
Niedermayer scored on a penalty shot after being tripped with the Devils playing two men short, and he set up another goal in leading New Jersey to a 3-0 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night.
"I didn't want to go 0 for 2," Niedermayer quipped when asked about his second career penalty shot, a call Montreal coach Alain Vigneault questioned.
Niedermayer's dramatic shot came at 1:04 of the second period with Montreal skating on a 5-on-3 power play. Devils defenseman Ken Daneyko shot the puck off the side glass and it got past Mark Recchi at the right point.
Niedermayer chased the puck down in center ice and was tripped by Canadiens defenseman Patrice Brisebois, who made a sliding attempt to stop him.
"The guy shot the puck. He stopped, fell down," Vigneault said. "He goes in, stops, cuts and starts falling, then the stick hits him as he shoots the puck."
Niedermayer said stepping on Brisebois' stick might have caused him to fall.
On the penalty shot against Jose Theodore, Niedermayer skated in quickly, faked a backhand shot and beat the goaltender with a forehand shot between the legs for a 2-0 lead.
"When I was skating in I noticed he was quite a ways out of his net and I felt if I could just get him going side to side a littlbit something would happen," Niedermayer said.
One of the NHL's best skating defenseman, Niedermayer was stopped on a penalty shot by Ken Wregget on Feb. 7, 1996, in a game against Pittsburgh.
| The Devils' Sergei Brylin deflects the puck away from the Canadiens' Jonas Hoglund as Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur looks on during the first period. (AP) |
"The last time I got a little bit too excited and jumped out of there and started skating real fast and forgot about what I was doing," said Niedermayer, who missed the first three weeks of the season while negotiating a new contract. "I just tried to stay relaxed and concentrate on what I was doing."
Martin Brodeur, playing perhaps his best game of the season, stopped 24 shots as the Devils won for the fifth time in six games and ended the Canadiens' three-game winning streak.
Krzysztof Oliwa and Sergei Brylin joined Niedermayer in scoring their first goals of the season and stretching New Jersey's unbeaten streak at home against Montreal to 10 games (8-0-2).
Oliwa gave New Jersey the lead at 12:12 of the first period after Theodore failed to stop a dump-in pass behind his net. Oliwa got the puck as it came around and stuffed it into an empty net.
Niedermayer set up Brylin's power-play goal early in the third period with a pass from the right circle. Less than a minute earlier, Niedermayer had a goal nullified when the officials blew a play dead because Devils center Brendan Morrison was knocked woozy by a check.
Brodeur, whose 2.31 goals against average is high for him, made at least four outstanding saves in the first period when Montreal had 11 shots. The best was a shot in the slot by Matt Higgins. The shutout was the first of the year for Brodeur and the 33rd of his career, the first against the Canadiens.
"We had great chances tonight," Brisebois said. "Martin Brodeur is so good. He kept his team in the game."
Montreal failed to convert on eight power-play chances in the game, which featured three third-period fights.
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