The New Jersey Devils overcame the strangest no-goal of the playoffs and a freakish near goal to beat the Ottawa Senators 1-0 on Thursday and grab the lead in the Eastern Conference finals.
The Senators had top defenseman Wade Redden in the lineup and some luck on their side, but that wasn't enough.
Sergei Brylin scored on a masterful deflection, his first goal of the playoffs for the Devils, who lead the best-of-seven series 2-1. Game 4 is tonight in New Jersey.
By the NHL's admission, Jay Pandolfo should've given the Devils a 2-0 lead in the first period. But his shot that went in the net wasn't detected before it bounced out. He didn't know whether to throw up his hands in happiness or frustration.
"I didn't know really what was going on," said Pandolfo, who scored in each of the first two games of the series after notching six goals in the regular season.
With 7:50 remaining in the first period, Pandolfo's shot from in front got well inside the right post. The puck struck a pad at the bottom of the net and kicked right back out and under goalie Patrick Lalime, who was seated.
"The goalie did the splits and I never saw it after that," goal judge Paul McInnis said.
Jamie Langenbrunner, who made the pass to Pandolfo, raised his arms in celebration as referee Kerry Fraser skated in. John Madden appeared to ask Fraser about the call of no-goal, and the goal light never came on.
"I imagine somebody will be held accountable for it, you've got to be," Devils coach Pat Burns said.
Pandolfo never saw the puck in the net. The lack of a reaction by most Devils was a factor in why replays weren't vigorously searched.
"I guess I have to learn to celebrate a little more. Maybe they would've gone upstairs to check it," Pandolfo said.
Bryan Smolinski nearly gave the Senators the lead in the first period. His dump-in took a crazy carom off the right-wing boards and shot just wide of the left post as Brodeur was behind the net.
Redden, Ottawa's ice-time leader, was back two days after a left knee strain sustained in Game 2 made him questionable for this one.
The only goal that counted came with 9:12 left in the first period. Defenseman Brian Rafalski shot from the right point, and Brylin deflected it between his legs while his back was to the goal, and it went past Lalime.
It was Brylin's first playoff goal in 16 games, dating to the 2001 Stanley Cup finals.