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Devils Wrap Up Atlantic, Eliminate Rangers

Published in the Asbury Park Press 4/05/03

By MIKE KERWICK

STAFF WRITER

NEW YORK -- Their plot will be located in the nicest section of the graveyard, somewhere out near the 2002 Mets. Money can't buy you love or a spot in the playoffs.

Sometimes all $80 million gets you is a really sharp-looking headstone.

The curtain went down on the New York Rangers' season last night. The New Jersey Devils closed the show on Broadway with a 2-1 victory in front of 18,200 at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers will be at home watching the playoffs for the sixth straight season. The Devils, on the other hand, wrapped up the Eastern Conference Atlantic Division title for the fifth time in seven years. And with the division title comes the No. 2 seed in the East.

"This team fought tooth and nail all year long," said Devils coach Pat Burns.

Jeff Friesen had the game-winner, putting the Devils up 2-1 with a great individual effort. He skated all the way up the ice and flicked a wrister at Rangers goalie Mike Dunham. The puck squeaked through Dunham's legs before he was able to snap his pads shut.

"I was just trying to get it away quick," Friesen said.

Friesen's goal capped a two-goal second period that brought New Jersey back from a 1-0 deficit.

Scott Niedermayer pulled the Devils even at 1-1 when he tipped in a Jamie Langenbrunner pass. Niedermayer threw his stick down just as Langenbrunner's delivery reached the lip of the goal crease to knot the score.

"It was a great pass by Jamie," Niedermayer said. "I didn't see him make the pass."

The two goals came after New York struck first, taking advantage of a power-play opportunity at the 2:00 mark of the second period. Brian Leetch used a cross-ice pass to hit Petr Nedved on the right side of the net. Nedved shuffled the puck back and forth, before going high on Martin Brodeur.

After that, the period and the game belonged to New Jersey.

Had to be some added pleasure knocking out the Rangers, right?

"Not to me," Niedermayer said.

Burns took the same tone. But when prodded, other Devils were willing to admit that beating the arch-rival Rangers always makes things feel better.

Brodeur, who won his 41st game with an 18-save performance, first denied any added sense of happiness.

"I don't care what they do," Brodeur said.

Later on, with a smile, he admitted how much this meant.

"It's a big rivalry for our fans and ourselves," Brodeur said.

Dunham and Brodeur took turns trading saves during the first period. Dunham got in the way of a Grant Marshall backhand and followed that with a skate save on Langenbrunner.

Brodeur's toughest save of the period came on Anson Carter, who tried to push a backhand by him on the left post. He used the butt end of his goalie stick to keep the puck out.

Brodeur has one more game and a few rounds of playoffs left to go. Dunham isn't so lucky. He'll be lumped with all his teammates, combined with all the others in the epitaph on the 2002-03 Rangers.

Might be an expensive epitaph, but it's an epitaph nonetheless.

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too damn funny. :lol::lol:

I predict they will spend more money and still fail to recognize ethat hockey is a team sport that requires more then just high opriced prima donna offensive starts to win or Sather will quit..either way, :evil:

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too damn funny. :lol::lol:

I predict they will spend more money and still fail to recognize ethat hockey is a team sport that requires more then just high opriced prima donna offensive starts to win or Sather will quit..either way, :evil:

And yet, they have such a great role model of a TEAM just a few miles away . . . .

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