Senators dispatch Devils, move into conference finals

Associated Press • May 6, 2007 at 5:30 AM

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - First Sid the Kid and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Now Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils. All in 10 games.

The Ottawa Senators are finally delivering in the playoffs after a decade of disappointing failures.

Jason Spezza scored the go-ahead goal and set up another by Daniel Alfredsson in a three-goal second period on Saturday night as Ottawa beat the Devils 3-2 to win their Eastern Conference semifinal in five games.

Goaltender Ray Emery, who showed no effects from a minor automobile accident in Ottawa on Friday, made 27 saves to cap a series in which he clearly outplayed Brodeur, who set an NHL record with 48 wins this season.

Scott Gomez scored twice for New Jersey in what may have been the final Devils game at the Continental Airlines Arena. The three-time Stanley Cup champions are moving to a new arena in Newark next season, but they will leave the Meadowlands having not gotten past the second round in the past three postseasons.

The Senators will face either the Buffalo Sabres or New York Rangers in the conference final with the winner earning a trip to the Stanley Cup finals. While Ottawa has been to the playoffs the past 10 years, it has never made it to the finals. The only time the Senators made the conference finals, the Devils beat them in seven games en route to winning the Cup.

Whoever faces the Senators will go up against a team that's getting great goaltending, outstanding play from its top line of Spezza, Alfredsson and Dany Heatley (two assists in Game 5) and all the little things from the role players.

Antoine Vermette, the left wing on the Senators' checking line, made the biggest play of Game 5, keeping the puck in the Devils' zone early in the second period and eventually tipping a shot by defenseman Tom Preissing past Brodeur to tie the score at 1-all.

The goal took the air out of the crowd, and the Senators - who were outshot 11-3 in the first period - took over from there.

Spezza put the Senators ahead a little more than a minute after Jay Pandolfo was penalized for interfering with Emery at 10:58. The center took a pass from Alfredsson along the left boards, skated into the circle and ripped a shot past a screened Brodeur, who made 21 saves.

Alfredsson, who has three goals in the past four games, scored with less than three minutes left in the second period. He took a pass from Spezza, skated into the Devils' zone and beat Brodeur with a shot between the pads, the third soft goal New Jersey's All-Star surrendered in the past two games.

New Jersey dominated the opening period and finally broke through when Gomez stuffed the rebound of Patrik Elias' shot past Emery.

The Devils had their chances to add to the lead in the period but they either missed the net or couldn't get the puck past Emery. Jamie Langenbrunner missed a wide open net after Zach Parise made a move in front and Emery made a diving glove stop on Elias after a great setup by Gomez.

The Devils didn't beat Emery again until Gomez scored in the final minute with Brodeur on the bench.

DETROIT - Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg each scored a goal and set up two others, leading Detroit past San Jose and within one victory of reaching the Western Conference finals.

Detroit leads 3-2 and can end the series Monday night in San Jose.

Datsyuk turned San Jose goalie Evgeni Nabokov's misplay into the winning goal late in the second period, and Nabokov didn't seem the same after that, surrendering a pair of third-period power-play goals.

Marcel Goc scored with 15:07 left in the first period to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead.

Zetterberg tied the score three minutes into the second period with his fourth postseason goal.

Mikael Samuelsson added an insurance goal nearly four minutes into the final period, slapping a one-timer past Nabokov. Tomas Holmstrom concluded the scoring with 13:46 left in the third.

Defenseman Mathieu Schneider broke his wrist during the first period and will miss the rest of the playoffs, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. Schneider was hurt when checked by Sharks captain Patrick Marleau.

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