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NHL briefs

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 23, 2001


Devils outlast scrappy 'Canes

RALEIGH, N.C. -- There was no miracle on Tobacco Road.

Randy McKay scored twice and Bobby Holik collected three assists as the New Jersey Devils advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals with a 5-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday.

The defending Stanley Cup champions won the first three games of the series and appeared poised for their second straight first-round sweep. Undermanned, the Hurricanes stayed alive with a pair of one-goal wins as they tried to become the third team in NHL history to win a seven-game series after falling behind 3-0.

But New Jersey never trailed Sunday. It faces Toronto beginning Thursday in a rematch of last year's semis; the Devils won in six games.

"We were definitely worried," said New Jersey captain Scott Stevens, who knocked out Carolina captain Ron Francis and top rookie Shane Willis earlier in the series with bone-jarring hits.

"That team worked hard; they never quit. I give our guys credit. We played a much smarter game. ... We were better positionally, and when we play better positionally, we get better chances."

The Carolina franchise is 1-10 in 11 playoff series dating to 1980.

"Momentum played a key part in this series," Hurricanes defenseman Glen Wesley said. "We had it, and they took it away."

A wild sellout crowd of 18,730 at the Entertainment and Sports Arena began a standing ovation for the Hurricanes with nearly two minutes left and did not stop until long after the ceremonial handshake was over.

"These people were crazy," Irbe said. "If anybody now says there is no future for hockey here or that hockey doesn't belong here, then they are wrong."

Playoff news

RED WINGS: The team was cheered by injured captain Steve Yzerman skating briefly at practice.

Although he walked with a limp, Yzerman said he was not in pain. He did not remain on the ice for the entire one-hour session at the Kings' training facility in El Segundo, Calif.

"It was just go out for a little twirl and see what's up," Yzerman said. "It felt okay."

Yzerman said he would decide today if he could play in Game 6 of the West series tonight at Staples Center. The Red Wings trail three games to two; the Kings have won three straight.

Yzerman has been out with what team officials call a twisted left ankle. Media reports have said the injury is more serious and that Yzerman also has a broken left index finger.

Yzerman bristled when asked to clarify what has kept him out of the series except for six minutes of the first period of Game 1. "Quite frankly, it's not any of your business," he said. "For me to tell you what my injury is doesn't do me any good, so why would I tell anyone?"

Forward Brendan Shanahan did not travel with the team. Shanahan, who broke a bone in his left foot in Game 1, played nearly 22 minutes Saturday in pain and had an assist in the Red Wings' 3-2 loss.

Assistant coach Dave Lewis said Shanahan might rejoin the team later Sunday or today.

SABRES: The team took the day off after steamrolling into the semis with an 8-0 win over the Flyers. It resumes practicing today to prepare for either the Penguins or Capitals.

- SportsTicker contributed to this report.

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