The pressure is off Patrik Elias and Scott Gomez, and clearly on the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.
Elias and Gomez, who have struggled finding the net in the postseason, each had a goal and an assist to lead the New Jersey Devils to a 3-0 win Thursday night and a 2-0 lead in the Stanley Cup finals against Anaheim.
"They've been battling real hard," linemate Grant Marshall said. "The spotlight's on you when you're a goal scorer and you're not scoring.
"It's so easy to say they're struggling even though they're still doing the little things in a game that are helping a team out," added Marshall, who made up for his linemates' lack of production with five goals. "It was a matter of time until they started breaking through."
"The goals finally went in for us tonight," Gomez said. "Me and Patty have been coming close. It was one of those things. Patty got his off a bounce and the other one hit off me. We'll take it."
A 28-goal scorer in the regular season, Elias only had two in 18 playoff games. Gomez had only one in the same number of games after getting 13 in the regular season.
"We might not have been scoring but we were creating chances," Elias said. "That put pressure on the other team and that's good for our team."
The New Jersey Devils are within two games of their third Stanley Cup since 1995 because two former Mighty Ducks are making life miserable for their old teammates.
Defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky set up two goals and Jeff Friesen got his third in two games Thursday.
"I think anytime you go from one team to another . . . you want to play your best hockey against them," Devils captain Scott Stevens said. "Jeff is showing that right now and so is Oleg."
Friesen and Tverdovsky were traded to New Jersey last summer in a multiplayer deal that sent Petr Sykora and others to Anaheim.
Friesen has been phenomenal the last two rounds, scoring six goals in eight games. He had three game-winners in the conference finals against Ottawa and the winner against Anaheim in Game One.
Tverdovsky, who was benched for eight of nine games, was re-inserted into the lineup this series. He set up linemates Patrik Elias and Scott Gomez in staking New Jersey to a 2-0 lead.
"We just had some lucky breaks today," Tverdovsky said. "I don't think we're killing them. We are trying to play the right way, within the system. Tonight, that was the story."