As Wednesday night's historic Game Six went on and on into the fourth overtime, the New Jersey Devils were becoming convinced they were getting the upper hand of the scoreless duel with the Buffalo Sabres.
"We knew we had better chances. We were skating better. We had lots of odd-man rushes and we were thinking it was just a matter of time before we'll get one," said New Jersey captain and defenseman Scott Stevens.
The Devils had shots advantages in each of the overtimes, 10-6 in the first, 11-8 in the second, 14-5 in the third and 4-1 in the fourth.
"We knew if we played strong defensively that we were going to get our chances," said center Bobby Carpenter.
"I can't remember the flow of the game or anything, but I would have to say that we out-chanced them pretty good in the latter part of the overtimes," Carpenter said. "It's unfortunate that we didn't score."
The Devils believed the Sabres were beginning to wear down physically in the second, third and fourth overtimes.
"Oh, definitely," Carpenter. "You could see the looks on their faces. They way they looked coming off. A lot of their top players on that one power play (in the second OT when New Jersey picked up a minor for too many men on the ice) were just scrambling to try and get to the ice."
On the other hand, the Devils were haunted by the scoring chances they failed to convert, the open nets they missed, the passes to uncovered attackers that missed the mark.
"We did break them down a few times, but we couldn't finish," said Stevens. "There were umpteen chances."
Carpenter remembered the one he fired over the net when he was left uncovered in the slot.
"I knew the pass was coming but I lost sight of the puck for a second before it got to me. Then I saw it at the last second and tried to one-time it. I just shot it too hard."
New Jersey's Stevens also was on the losing side of another playoff marathon. He was playing for Washington when the Capitals were victimized by Pat LaFontaine's goal after 68:47 of overtime April 18, 1987. LaFontaine was playing for the New York Islanders then. The goal in the seventh game of the series ended the Capitals season.
"I was thinking about it, sure," said Stevens, who refers to that game as "The LaFontaine Game."
For the record, Bob Nystrom and the Islanders beat the Sabres, 2-1, in the second overtime (at 81:20) on May 1, 1980.
The tension built on both teams with each overtime period. Focusing on the action was so taxing, New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur said he tried to think of other things during the intermissions.
"You try to rest and put the game out of your mind because it was getting nuts out there thinking about the game. It was unbelievable. I don't want to think about the game all the time because you get so tired," Brodeur said.
Carpenter took consolation in just playing in a game which becomes a part of hockey history. "To be a part of this was exciting. It really was," Carpenter said. "It was above and beyond what anyone could possibly imagine. Every guy should be proud of what we did. This is history. They'll be talking about this forever."
"It's one I'm going to remember for sure," Brodeur said.
How about those Yankees! New Jersey Devils fans listening to the broadcast of Wednesday's game never did hear the overtime periods. A contractual commitment required that the local rights holder preempt the Devils game in time for the start of the Yankees-Mariners baseball game.
Empire Cable was to rebroadcast Wednesday night's historic game in its entirety, today from noon to about 6:30 p.m.