• Game info: 3:00 pm EDT Sat Apr 26, 2003
  • TV: ABC, TSN

PLAYOFF SERIES: Eastern Conference semifinals; Devils lead 1-0.

Martin Brodeur, Jamie Langenbrunner and John Madden have the New Jersey Devils looking almost unbeatable.

The trio leads the Devils into Game 2 of their East semifinal series against the Tampa Bay Lightning looking to give New Jersey a 2-0 lead.

With Brodeur enjoying perhaps the best postseason of his career, Langenbrunner scoring clutch goals and Madden providing offense as well as shutting down the opposition’s stars, the Devils are again succeeding with the formula that carried them past Boston in the first round.

Brodeur recorded his third shutout in four games, Langenbrunner had a goal and an assist in a 3:47 span of the third period and Madden also scored to lead New Jersey to a 3-0 victory in Thursday night’s series opener at Continental Airlines Arena.

“It’s important that we establish ourselves,” said Brodeur, who set a career high with four shutouts during the 2001 postseason. “It’s not going to be an easy series for them. They’ll have to work hard to try and beat us. We have a good system and we’ve got to play it well. In the first game we showed them how we’re going to play.”

Brodeur has given up just eight goals in six games during these playoffs, including five in one.

While Brodeur has usually kept the puck out of New Jersey’s net, Langenbrunner has been depositing it in the opposition’s goal. The right wing had five goals in the Devils’ five-game victory over the Bruins and picked up where he left off on Thursday.

“I pride myself in playing well in big games,” Langenbrunner said.

Madden’s contributions get overlooked at times, but the diminutive center has arguably been the Devils’ most important player other than Brodeur during this postseason. Assigned to check Boston star Joe Thornton during the quarterfinals, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Madden harassed the 6-4, 220-pound Thornton, holding him to three points in the series.

Madden drew the defensive assignment against the Lightning’s Vincent Lecavalier in the opener, and held the talented and speedy No. 1 center to one shot on goal. Perhaps in a nod to Madden’s defensive abilities, Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella initially split up the line of Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Vaclav Prospal to get at least a portion of his best forward unit away from the Devils’ center.

Tampa’s top line, which scored 10 of the Lightning’s final 11 goals in the first round against Washington after being formed in Game 2, wasn’t reunited Thursday night until nearly eight minutes had elapsed.

Madden has also found time to be one of the Devils’ better offensive performers, recording nine points to tie Langenbrunner for the team lead.

“I think we can play better. You can always play better,” Madden said.

The much-hyped matchup of Brodeur and Lightning goalie Nikolai Khabibulin didn’t live up to expectations in the opener. Neither player allowed a goal through the first two periods, but Khabibulin looked shaky in the opening 20 minutes, then allowed three goals in less than 10 minutes of the third period. He finished with 29 saves, while Brodeur only had to make 15.

Tampa Bay must find a way to get its previously dynamic top line going to have a chance to win this series. St. Louis scored the winner in the final three games against Washington, but had his four-game goal streak snapped by the Devils.

“There’s a fine line between being patient and just sitting back,” St. Louis said. “I thought we gave them way too much respect. We didn’t play physical, we didn’t finish checks, we didn’t make it tough on them.”

Defenseman Brian Rafalski, who teams with Scott Stevens to form the Devils’ top defensive pairing, was scratched Thursday night due to illness. Tommy Albelin took his place, his first action in this year’s playoffs. Rafalski’s status for Game 2 is uncertain.

The series moves to Tampa for Game 3 on Monday.

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Lightning - 3rd seed; beat Washington Capitals 4-2, quarterfinals. Devils - 2nd seed; beat Boston Bruins 4-1, quarterfinals.

PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Lightning - St. Louis, 5 goals and 9 points; Dan Boyle, 5 assists; Lecavalier, 18 PIM. Devils - Langenbrunner, 6 goals; Madden, 6 assists; Langenbrunner and Madden, 9 points; Patrik Elias, 14 PIM.

PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Lightning - Power play: 14.3 percent (4 for 28). Penalty killing: 83.3 percent (25 for 30). Devils - Power play: 12.0 percent (3 for 25). Penalty killing: 84.2 percent (16 for 19).

GOALTENDERS: Lightning - Khabibulin ( v0995mcor- r s *2080AP-RAC—DerbySecuri 04-25 0155

^*2080< ^AP-RAC—Derby Security<,0159

Federal agencies helping with Derby weekend security<

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP)—Security again will be heightened for this year’s Kentucky Derby, with 18 federal agencies assisting local officials.

Added precautions for Derby weekend include placing barricades at each gate of Churchill Downs, limiting items that people can bring into the track and increasing patrolling officers. The race is May 3.

Security has been tightened since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but this year more federal agencies are helping.

Louisville police Maj. Michael Dossett would not name the agencies assisting. He also would not estimate how many law enforcement officials would be present at Churchill Downs.

Last year, Derby goers were scanned with metal detectors and bags were hand-searched as they entered the track. This year, X-ray machines will be added to each gate to search large bags.

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