The New Jersey Devils journey to the 2000 Stanley Cup Finals started with a sweep of the Florida Panthers and ended with a historic rally. Down three games to one against the Philadelphia Flyers, the top seed in the Eastern Conference during the regular season, the Devils stormed back to become first team in NHL history to rally from such a deficit in a conference final. This set up the first of three Stanley Cup Finals appearances in four seasons for Jersey’s Team. They faced the Dallas Stars and clinched their second Stanley Cup championship with a double overtime win in Game 6.
Here are the Top 5 New Jersey Devils 2000 Stanley Cup Finals Moments:
1) Chasing the Eagle
The Devils opened the Finals at the Continental Airlines Arena and a little over seven minutes into the opening period, the “A-Line” consisting of Jason Arnott, Patrik Elias, and Petr Sykora teamed up to give New Jersey the early 1-0 lead. Dallas responded to tie it on a goal by Darryl Sydor. However, in the second period the Devils took control of the game. Defenseman Ken Daneyko put the Devils back ahead with his first goal since the 1998-99 season and his first postseason goal since the 1995 playoff run. Sykora padded the lead and eventual Conn Smythe Trophy winner Scott Stevens scored what would turn out to be the game-winning goal. The Devils continued to pour it on in the third period when they scored three goals within the first 5:12 of the final frame. Sergei Brylin scored on a partial breakaway and Sykora notched his second goal of the game to chase goaltender Ed Belfour, nicknamed “the Eagle,” to the bench. New Jersey wasn’t finished. Arnott buried his second of the game a little over two minutes later on backup Manny Fernandez. The Devils took the opener 7-3 and the “A-Line” combined for four goals, seven assists, and eleven points. Even more impressive, New Jersey did not take one penalty.
Captain Scott Stevens scored what would turn out to be the game-winning goal in Game 1 of the 2000 Stanley Cup finals.
2) The “A-Line” Continues to Sizzle
After their scorching effort in Game 1, the Devils dropped Game 2 2-1. The series then shifted to Dallas, where the Stars took two of three games against the Buffalo Sabres in the previous spring’s Stanley Cup Finals. The Stars looked poised to build on their previous Finals appearance when they took a lead with a power play goal by Sylvain Cote after the midway point of the first. However, the Devils struck with the equalizer a little over five minutes later when Arnott split the Dallas defense to poke the puck past Belfour.
The “A-Line” continued their domination of Dallas in the second period when Arnott picked up an assist on Sykora’s power play blast from the blue line that put the Devils ahead for good. Goaltender Martin Brodeur stopped 22 of 23 shots including a number of close calls by Brett Hull and Mike Modano in the final moments of play. The Devils won the game and led the series 2-1.
3) Rookies Lead the Way
New Jersey entered the third period of Game 4 down 1-0 due to a goal by future Devil Joe Nieuwendyk in the second period. Then in a span of 3:41 the Devils changed the tide in Dallas and got themselves to within one win of their second championship.
Brylin tied the game for New Jersey after he buried the rebound of an Alexander Mogilny shot. A short while later, while shorthanded, rookie center John Madden came rushing up the right wing and narrowly missed the net with his shot that would have given the Devils the lead. He returned to the bench but jumped back on the ice to finish killing off the penalty after a short breather. In a déjà-vu moment he took possession of the puck and once again rushed up the very same wing. This time, however, he finished and gave New Jersey a 2-1 lead.
Just 1:17 later another rookie stole the show. The Devils forced a turnover in the neutral zone and defenseman Brian Rafalski took the puck at the red line and rapidly skated into the Stars end where he zipped it through the five-hole of Belfour to give the Devils a 3-1 lead. They would win by the same score as Brodeur slammed the door the rest of the way. He stopped 16 of 17 shots in the game.
Watch John Madden and Brian Rafalski score in Game 4 against the Dallas Stars:
4) Scott Niedermayer Comes Through
After the Rafalski goal in Game 4, the Devils would not score again until eight periods later. Shut out and defeated 1-0 in a triple-overtime battle in Game 5 at the Meadowlands, the Devils returned to Dallas looking to clinch their second Stanley Cup on the road. With Rafalski in the box after committing a holding penalty early in the second period, New Jersey went from shorthanded on the ice to up by one on the scoreboard. Jay Pandolfo pushed the puck out of the Devils end and passed it to 1995 Conn Smythe Trophy winner Claude Lemieux. Lemieux shoveled it over to Scott Niedermayer for a breakaway that the smooth skating defenseman was able to score on to snap the Devils goal drought of 145 minutes and 31 seconds. Mike Keane of the Stars, however, responded one minute and nine seconds later to tie the score.
Scott Niedermayer’s goal gave the Devils a 1-0 lead in Game 6 of the 2000 Stanley Cup Finals.
5) Elias to Arnott to Sykora’s Jersey
Neither team scored after Keane tied the game for the remainder of regulation. Heading into overtime for the second consecutive game, this time the Devils were determined to be the victors. At 8:20 of the second overtime, the “A-Line,” minus their right winger Sykora due to an injury he suffered in the first period, came through for their downed teammate. Captain Scott Stevens kept the puck in the Dallas zone and it wrapped around to the corner to the left of Belfour. From there Elias blindly centered the puck towards the net where Arnott one-timed it past the “Eagle” to give the New Jersey Devils their second Stanley Cup championship.
The Stanley Cup clinching goal and the Conn Smythe Trophy presentation:
While the Devils celebrated on the ice, Sykora was in the hospital. In a nod to his fallen line mate and friend, Elias draped Sykora’s jersey over his own during the celebration. As the Stanley Cup was presented to New Jersey, Head Coach Larry Robinson took the jersey from Elias and wore it. Commissioner Gary Bettman stated in his speech as he presented the Cup that a winning team “had to have heart.” The Devils truly did have, as Bettman said, “championship heart.”
Watch the Stanley Cup presentation with Petr Sykora’s jersey being worn at different moments by Patrik Elias and Larry Robinson:
Leo is in his second year with THW. He covers the 3-Time Stanley Cup Champion New Jersey Devils and the Albany Devils of the American Hockey League. You can follow Leo on Twitter, @LeoScaglioneJr.