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09-27-2003, 03:43 AM
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Battleship
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Saturday, September 27, 2003

BY RICH CHERE
Star-Ledger Staff

PHILADELPHIA -- As he always does, Devils captain Scott Stevens took care of business.

Although the Devils fell to the Flyers, 5-4, in overtime last night in a preseason game at the Wachovia Center, it was a second period hit from Stevens against Philadelphia enforcer Donald Brashear that will remain in the minds of both teams.

Brashear, who angered the Devils Tuesday night in Trenton by punching Grant Marshall while the right winger was lying on the ice, was dropped by an open-ice hit from Stevens as he skated to the top of the slot at 5:30 of the second. Brashear challenged Stevens to a fight and the Devils' veteran defenseman, who long ago proved that he was one of the game's fiercest players, held his own.

"I had a chance to hit him and he didn't like it," Stevens said of Brashear. "He took exception and I responded. I'll be there. That's fine."

Brashear, who was knocked down by Stevens' shoulder, received an instigating penalty and a 10-minute misconduct in addition to the fighting major. Stevens got five for fighting.

"They're all clean hits with him. If a guy comes across, he's going to hit him," Brashear said. "That's what it's all about. I don't care. I can take (the hits), but he's going to pay the price, that's all."

The Devils and Flyers meet again tonight at Continental Airlines Arena, their fourth and final meeting of the preseason. It is not known whether Brashear will make the trip or whether Stevens will dress for the Devils.

Coach Pat Burns said he knew Stevens and Brashear were destined to come to blows.

"They'd been jostling most of the night," Burns said. "I knew something was going to happen. Anybody who comes into the zone with their head down like that should know Scotty's going to greet you."

The Flyers blew a 3-0 lead before winning on Jeremy Roenick's power-play goal after 2:29 of overtime, but Stevens and the Devils sent a message that they will not tolerate Brashear's abuse all season.

"I though that was George Foreman," defenseman Brian Rafalski said of Stevens, his defense partner. "That was the first one since he fought Rick Tocchet here (in 2000-01). That was a good scrap, too."

If familiarity breeds contempt, the Devils and Flyers are sure to loath each other once the regular season begins.


Notes:

Adrian Foster scored the Devils' first goal. Patrik Elias, Marshall and Mike Rupp also scored for the Devils. ... Corey Schwab started the game in goal and allowed three goals on 17 shots before being replaced by Scott Clemmensen at 9:00 of the second period. Clemmensen stopped 13 of 15 shots.

Brashear spent most of the second period in the penalty box. After his hit on the much-smaller Brian Gionta, Brashear was sent off for mixing it up with Scott Niedermayer. Later, Brashear tripped Patrik Elias and then drew a penalty for charging Aleksander Suglobov.

Burns used the following line combinations: Elias-Scott Gomez-Marshall, Brian Gionta-Rupp-Aleksander Suglobov, Jay Pandolfo-John Madden-Joe Hulbig, Tuomas Pihlman-Foster-Ilkka Pikkarainen. ... Defense pairings were Stevens-Rafalski, Colin White-Scott Niedermayer and Paul Martin-David Hale"