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NHL briefs

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 27, 2001

Leafs stun Devils 2-0

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Curtis Joseph stopped 32 shots and the Toronto Maple Leafs showed their new playoff look is for real with a 2-0 victory over the Devils on Thursday night in the opener of the Eastern Conference semifinal.

Nik Antropov and former Devils forward Steve Thomas scored, and Toronto's penalty killers blanked New Jersey on eight extra-man chances in getting a little revenge for a miserable six-shot performance in being eliminated in Game 6 last year.

The Maple Leafs made some major changes after losing that series, but Joseph wasn't one of them.

Joseph kept the Maple Leafs in the Devils' series last year, allowed only three goals in a first-round sweep of Ottawa and he was just as dominant in the opener of this best-of-seven series.

Once Antropov and Thomas scored in about a six-minute span in the second, the only question seemed to be whether Joseph would get his third shutout of the playoffs and the 12th of his career.

Devils defenseman Brian Rafalski and Scott Niedermayer had good chances in the final minutes, but Joseph was always in the right spot. On the ones he was out of place, the puck failed to find the net.

Antropov, who missed the Devils' playoff series last year with a knee injury, put Toronto ahead at 3:16, just seven seconds after an interference penalty to New Jersey's Jason Arnott expired.

Sergei Berezin carried the puck into the Devils' zone, only to have the puck checked off his stick by defenseman Sean O'Donnell. It went straight to Antropov, who beat Martin Brodeur from between the circles. Brodeur faced 17 shots, including one in the third.

Brodeur had kept the game scoreless on the power play with a sliding save on a rebound attempt by Tomas Kaberle.

Toronto, which had only three power plays, converted its last one, with the aid of a couple of lucky bounces. With Bobby Holik off for tripping, Thomas sent a pass from behind the Devils' net to Mats Sundin on the left boards. The Toronto captain sent the puck toward the net, where it hit off the skate of Devils defenseman Ken Daneyko, then off Maple Leafs forward Gary Roberts and went to Thomas low in the right circle. Once he controlled the puck with his skate, the net was wide open for his first playoff goal.

Toronto won the first game at home last year before the Devils won four of the next five en route to the Stanley Cup.

PENGUINS 3, SABRES 0: Mario Lemieux and Johan Hedberg teamed up for another playoff victory in a game that could prove costly for Pittsburgh.

Jaromir Jagr, the regular-season scoring champion, missed the third period with an undisclosed injury as visiting Pittsburgh beat Buffalo in the first game of the Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Jagr appeared to limp off the ice after being checked hard into the boards by defenseman Alexei Zhitnik late in the second period. Little-used forward Josef Beranek took Jagr's spot on Pittsburgh's top line the rest of the way.

The Penguins would say only that Jagr had a "charley horse" injury, and gave no information on his status for Game 2 on Saturday.

Jagr set up Lemieux's goal 5:07 into the game. Crossing the blue line, Lemieux blasted a 30-footer that beat goalie Dominik Hasek. While it was Lemieux's 75th career playoff goal, it was only fourth ever against Hasek, and first in Buffalo.

Jan Hrdina, set up by Beranek, sealed the win by scoring with six minutes left. Former Sabres and Lightning forward Wayne Primeau, set up by Lemieux, made it 3-0 with 2:20 remaining.

Hedberg, in only his fifth week in the NHL, then did the rest, stopping 25 shots to record his second shutout of the playoffs.

The Penguins are 3-0 in the postseason at Buffalo, after eliminating the Sabres 2-1 in a best-of-three 1979 first-round series -- the only other time the two teams have met in the playoffs.

Sabres defenseman Richard Smehlik (ankle) and checking forward Erik Rasmussen (shoulder) did not play.

AVALANCHE: Colorado signed forward Vaclav Nedorost of the Czech Republic to a multiyear contract. Nedorost, 19, was Colorado's first pick and the 14th overall in the 2000 entry draft.

CANUCKS: Vancouver re-signed Finnish winger Jarkko Ruutu. Terms were not disclosed. The 25-year-old Finn had three goals, three assists and 32 penalty minutes in 21 games this season.

FLYERS: Eric Lindros' attorney, Gord Kirke, told the Associated Press he spoke to general manager Bob Clarke and both agreed that "it would be inappropriate" to talk about any teams that might be interested in acquiring the 28-year-old center. "Everything is status quo," Kirke said. "We're going to wait until the playoffs are over."

U.S. ROSTER SET: United States completed its 23-man roster for the world championships, adding seven professional players, including forwards Doug Brown of the Red Wings and Derek Plante of the Flyers.

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