newjerseydevils.com (Feb. 24) – The Devils' amazing February run continues.
John Madden's goal with 49.6 seconds left in overtime lifted the Devils to a 2-1 decision over the Washington Capitals on Sunday, extending New Jersey's winning streak to five games.
After Patrik Elias' wrist shot from the top of the right circle hit the post, Madden slipped a backhand underneath Brent Johnson's left pad to end it.
Madden's 18th of the season was his third game winner, and stretched his goal streak to three games to match a career high. The former Selke Trophy winner has recorded a point in each of his last four games (3g-1a).
Jamie Langenbrunner had the other goal for the Devils, who improved to 9-2-2 this month with their fifth win in their last six road games (5-0-1). The club has gone eight straight games without a regulation loss.
Martin Brodeur (35-19-4) made 37 saves to secure his 11th straight 35-win season. The Devils goaltender kept his team alive in overtime with a poke check on Mike Green's point-blank just 52 seconds into the extra session.
Brodeur was also the difference during Washington's dominance over the first 40 minutes. The Capitals outshot the Devils 15-6 in the first period and 13-4 in the second, but Brodeur was unbeatable.
New Jersey (37-21-5) moved into sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference for the first time since April 8, 2001 by leapfrogging idle Ottawa. The Senators had held at least a share of the top seed since the second day of the regular season.
Coach Brent Sutter's group takes a two-point lead over second-place Pittsburgh in the Atlantic Division following the Penguins' shootout loss to the Sharks on Sunday
Next up is the conclusion of the two-game road trip Tuesday in Carolina. New Jersey closes out the season series with Washington on Friday at Prudential Center before playing six of its next seven on the road.
The Devils dodged a couple of bullets in the first period, thanks to the post and crossbar.
Matt Bradley's shot from the right side caught the iron behind Brodeur six minutes in. Later, Alexander Ovechkin set up an Eric Fehr wrister from the right circle that deflected off the crossbar at 13:14.
Then, after two periods of scoreless hockey, the teams exchanged goals 2:07 apart in the third.
The Devils began the final frame with 40 seconds remaining on a 5-on-3, and took a 1-0 lead when Langenbrunner scored with one second left on the two-man advantage.
Elias, who assisted on both New Jersey goals, won a draw back to the left point, where Paul Martin controlled and fed across the blue line to Langenbrunner. The Devils' captain fired a slapshot from the top of the right circle that beat Johnson inside the left post 39 seconds into the third.
Langenbrunner's 11th of the season and fifth on the power play snapped a five-game goal drought. Elias, meanwhile, continued his recent surge. He now has a goal and 10 assists in his last eight games, including points in four straight (1g-4a).
Alexander Semin soon made it 1-1 with a tricky toe-drag move from the right circle. A backchecking Sergei Brylin couldn't slow up the former 38-goal man, who eluded Mike Mottau before sneaking his 19th past Brodeur at 2:46.
The Devils recovered and took the play to the Capitals in the third period, firing 14 shots on goal to Washington's three over the first 10 minutes.
With 15 seconds left, Brodeur had to dive to his left to get a glove on Brooks Laich's forehand stuff attempt and send the game to overtime.
NJD NOTES The Devils beat the Caps for the second time this season (2-1)... Johnny Oduya's assist on the winning goal gives him 13 points (3g-10a) in his last 20 games... Martin was a plus-one in the game to improve to a club-high plus-20 rating... Sunday's scratches were Karel Rachunek and Vitaly Vishnevski... Sheldon Brookbank dropped the gloves with Washington bruiser Donald Brashear at 7:38 of the first period. Brashear landed a couple shots to the back of Brookbank's head in an otherwise uneventful tilt.
1 - 0 NJD
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 NJD