Corkum and Stevenson? Yes, Corkum and Stevenson bring the Devils back.
By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 30, 2001
DENVER -- Turner Stevenson was surrounded by a pack of reporters in the Devils locker room Tuesday night. He didn't even squint into the television lights.
Stevenson seemed right at home in the spotlight. Never mind that he hasn't been there much in his career. As a foot soldier for the defending Stanley Cup champions, Stevenson's job is, as he put it, "to stand there and get beat up. Get in the goalie's way and cause traffic."
Add goal scorer to his resume, for one night, anyway. The right wing's first-period goal at the Pepsi Center, his first of the playoffs, gave New Jersey a 2-1 victory over the Avalanche that evened the Stanley Cup final at one game apiece.
The series shifts to Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford for Game 3 on Thursday.
"I can't remember a bigger goal," Stevenson said.
It was a game for the Devils' grunts, and for great stories.
You think Stevenson isn't used to the spotlight? Check out Bob Corkum, whose first-period goal tied the score at 1. At the post-game interview, Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur had to tell Corkum to speak into the microphone.
The 33-year-old said he figured his career was over this season when the Kings put him on waivers and no one claimed him.
But the Devils traded for him in February and he played 17 games, getting a goal and four assists. He was scratched for Tuesday's Game 1, but got a chance on Bobby Holik's line in a shake-up after right wing Randy McKay was sidelined with a broken left hand.
"It is a dream come true, really," Corkum said. "Just to be a part and contribute in a Stanley Cup game is what I have been playing for for a long time."
Corkum's goal came at a most opportune time. Colorado had a 1-0 lead thanks to a power-play goal by Joe Sakic. But as the Devils killed a penalty, Corkum picked up a bouncing puck and broke away. His shot beat Colorado goaltender Patrick Roy through the legs to tie the score at 14:29.
"I got the shot off quick through his five hole," Corkum said. "Thank God it went in."
And how about Corkum beating 21-year-old Avalanche defenseman Martin Skoula down the ice? "That's what happens when you don't play every game," Corkum said. "You have a lot left in the tank."
The goal also stopped Roy's shutout streak in Stanley Cup final games at 227 minutes, 41 seconds, 1:41 off the mark set from March 1923-April 1926 by Clint Benedict, who played for the Senators and Montreal Maroons. Roy's nine-game win streak in final games, stretching to 1993, also was broken.
"I thought he would cut in front of me. He kind of surprised me by shooting," Roy said. "You just don't like to give up goals like that in one-goal games."
Stevenson's goal came at 17:20 on a backhander that bounced in after hitting the crossbar.
"I didn't even see it coming," Stevenson said of Scott Niedermayer's shot from the point that hit him in the wrist and fell to his feet. "It just dropped in front of me and I took a whack at it."
"But it wasn't just Corkum and Stevenson," Devils coach Larry Robinson said. "I thought we got contributions from everyone tonight."
In a huge reversal from Game 1, the Devils clamped down in the neutral zone. And though the hits weren't huge, they got in Colorado's way and disrupted its attack.
Right before Stevenson's goal, New Jersey killed off a two-man disadvantage for 1:29.
Brodeur was as solid as he was shaky in Game 1, making huge stops in the third period on Dan Hinote and Alex Tanguay.
"Today they seemed to step up their forwards," Colorado left wing Dave Reid said. "When we did get the puck, the D was pinching up close."
And Corkum and Stevenson were on the march.
"You know, it's just one of those things," Corkum said. "That's what the playoffs are all about. Guys step up that don't normally step up."
Devils 2, Avalanche 1
Series tied at 1
UP NEXT: Thursday at New Jersey, 8
TV: Ch. 28