Devils face roadblock to clincher


ANAHEIM, Calif. - While playing on their home ice at Continental Airlines Arena, the New Jersey Devils look every bit like the Stanley Cup champions they are one victory away from becoming.

With Thursday's 6-3 triumph over the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in Game 5, the Devils improved their home record this postseason to 11-1.

But on the road, the Devils look more like a team hoping to make the playoffs. With losses in games 3 and 4, New Jersey is a very pedestrian 4-6 on the road in the postseason.

What factor that will play tonight, when the Devils have a chance to secure their third Stanley Cup title in the past nine seasons, is unknown. The Devils did reach this point by winning a Game 7 on the road, in Ottawa in the East finals.

"I think the pressure is definitely on [the Ducks], knowing how they play in their building," New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur said. "We're going to try to ruin that."

This almost has been two different series - one on the East Coast, in which the Devils have dominated, and another on the West, where Anaheim has had the upper hand.

"It's all in the mind," New Jersey winger Jamie Langenbrunner said.

Langenbrunner had two third-period goals Thursday to put the game out of reach and leads all players with 11 playoff goals.

"It's just having that heart and determination that nothing is going to stop you from getting there," he added. "It seems like at home, we've done a better job of that."

Devils coach Pat Burns said his players knew that the pressure was on them Thursday. Now it shifts to the Ducks. This will be the first time in this playoff season that Anaheim will face a "win or go home" game.

"[The Ducks] feel pretty good about playing in their building, and they feel they can push this to a Game 7," Brodeur said.

Another factor that may play a role is the travel. Until this series, the Devils spent the entire postseason in the Eastern time zone. Yesterday was their second cross-country flight in a span of four days. Some Devils said after returning from Anaheim on Tuesday after Game 4 that they were thankful there were two days off before Game 5.

That won't be the case this time, with both teams flying cross-country and playing the next day. Long trips are more common in the Western Conference, though, and Anaheim had to play in Detroit, Dallas and Minnesota before this series.

The last time the Devils were in this position was in 2001. They led Colorado 3-2 with Game 6 in New Jersey. The Avalanche won that game and then went back to Denver to win Game 7.

"We're going to try to draw back on that a little bit," Brodeur said. "Not too much, because that wasn't a pleasant finals for us."

Bob Foltman is a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

Stanley Cup Finals

Anaheim Mighty Ducks vs. New Jersey Devils

Best of seven; *-if necessary

New Jersey leads series 3-2

TV: Chs. 2, 7

Game 1: N.J. 3, Anaheim 0

Game 2: at N.J. 3, Anaheim 0

Game 3: Anaheim 3, N.J. 2, OT

Game 4: Anaheim 1, N.J. 0, OT

Game 5: N.J. 6, Anaheim 3

Today: at Anaheim, 8 p.m.*Monday:at New Jersey, 8 p.m.

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