Devils 3, Senators 2, SO
Jamie Langenbrunner sneaks the puck through Anton Volchenkov in Thursday's action.
First, the Devils locked up the Atlantic Division. Then, they edged the Senators in a shootout Thursday in Ottawa to secure their franchise record 50th win.
Philadelphia's loss to the Rangers was already in the books by the time Zach Parise
and Brendan Shanahan beat Alex Auld in the shootout for a 3-2 win at Scotiabank Place.
The Devils (50-27-4) clinched their eighth division title with the Flyers' 2-1 defeat, and soon took care of their own business, snapping the Senators' home winning streak at nine games. Jersey's Team has claimed three of the last four division crowns.
Parise was the first shooter and turned Auld inside out with a devastating forehand deke. Shanahan notched the deciding tally in the second round with a quick wrister over Auld's catching glove.
stopped two of three Senators, including Jason Spezza, who tried to keep Ottawa alive as the final shooter. Brodeur finished with 28 saves and denied Spezza's backhander to cement his 18th victory.
"It's been a tough go for us the last couple of weeks, but now we're starting to roll," Brodeur told MSG Plus. "We've taken three of our last four games, and we'll that positive into our last game on Saturday (against Carolina) and get ourselves ready for the playoffs."
Washington's victory in Tampa locked the Devils into the three seed in the East. Now New Jersey awaits an opponent in their opening round series that will begin Wednesday or Thursday in Newark.
Pittsburgh beat the Islanders Thursday, and Carolina lost to Buffalo to create a three-team logjam in the middle of the conference standings. The Flyers have two games remaining, while the Hurricanes and Penguins each have one. All three clubs have 97 points.
The Devils, who have put their recent six-game winless streak behind them, improved to 38-1-1 when leading after two periods and swept the season series with the Senators. Ottawa will miss the playoffs for the first time since 1995-96.
"We played a really good road game here tonight," head coach Brent Sutter said. "We played a team that was obviously a different hockey team since the last time we played them, and we expected them to play well. They've had a pretty good run here at home. We needed to play well here tonight for a lot of different reasons, and we did that. It's a big effort by everybody."
The Devils welcomed back Patrik Elias
, who had missed the last four games with a lower body injury. They also called up rugged forward Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond
from Lowell (AHL) on Thursday. Bobby Holik and Mike Rupp were healthy scratches.
Elias saw 17:54 of ice time and finished with two shots. Letourneau-Leblond dropped the gloves for a first-period fight with Jesse Winchester.
After falling behind 1-0, New Jersey went ahead on two quick goals in the second period. Brian Gionta and Brian Rolston
struck 46 seconds apart in the first four minutes of the frame.
With Auld pulled for an extra attacker, Dany Heatley tied the contest at 2 with just one minute left in regulation. Mike Fisher hit the right post from the doorstep moments before Spezza set up Heatley for his 39th through a scramble in front to send the contest into extra time.
Jarkko Ruutu's seventh of the year on Brian Lee's rebound gave Ottawa the lead at 4:13 of the first, and the Senators carried the advantage into the middle frame.
Two seconds after the end of a Sens' penalty for too many men, the Devils tied the contest when Shanahan fed a slap-pass to Gionta in the slot for a redirection at 3:01.
Shanahan's helper left him two shy of 700 assists for his career and tied him with former Devil Dave Andreychuk for 49th all-time on the NHL's list.
Gionta's 20th of the season gave him five straight seasons with 20-or-more, including a franchise single-season record 48 in 2005-06. With 152 career tallies, Gionta also went ahead of Randy McKay for sole possession of seventh all-time in Devils history.
Just 46 seconds later, Rolston dumped the puck into Ottawa territory, and Auld stopped it behind the Sens' net. David Clarkson
was the first player to get to it, and shoveled a pass in front to Rolston, who ripped it through Auld at 3:47.
Rolston's 15th of the season snapped a 12-game goal drought.
Fifty wins surpasses the previous mark of 49 set by the 2006-07 squad. ... Brodeur had three saves in OT, including a glove stop on Anton Volchenkov
's blast at the 2:08 mark. Said Brodeur on MSG Plus: "His first shot got blocked and it went right back to him, so I was in really good position. He really hit the top part of the net, and I was able to make the save." ... Jamie Langenbrunner
was New Jersey's third shooter, and was stopped by Auld's glove. ... The Devils went 0-for-6 with the man advantage, and misfired on a four-minute power play midway through the third, when Daniel Alfredsson took two for goalie interference and two for unsportsmanlike conduct. ... Niclas Havelid (lower body) missed his third straight game.
|Three star selections