By Anthony Giornalista
Stats Senior Writer
New Jersey (49-27-4) at Ottawa (36-34-10), 7:30 p.m. EST
OTTAWA (AP) -- Success against Ottawa has helped put the New
Jersey Devils in position to secure yet another Atlantic
Division title. Most teams fared well versus the Senators before
Cory Clouston took over.
The Devils have a chance to sweep their season series with the
Senators and clinch their third division championship in four
years Thursday night, but they visit a club that has won a
franchise-record nine straight at home under Clouston's
New Jersey (49-27-4), third in the Eastern Conference, will
finish first in the Atlantic by earning a point in one of its
last two games or if Philadelphia loses one of its final three.
The Devils are five points ahead of the second-place Flyers, who
visit the New York Rangers on Thursday night.
But New Jersey has lost seven of its last nine (2-6-1) and is in
desperate need of some momentum heading into the playoffs.
"Everybody around us is playing well and we have to figure a way
to do the same," said Devils winger Jamie Langenbrunner, whose
team concludes the regular season at home against Carolina on
Saturday. "We have two games left and we have to find a way to
win both of those."
A matchup with Ottawa (36-34-10) may help New Jersey get back on
track. The Devils have won five straight versus the Senators
since a 4-1 home loss Oct. 27, 2007.
However, New Jersey's three wins in this season's series came
before Clouston took over as Ottawa's coach Feb. 2, when Craig
Hartsburg was fired. Clouston has changed the Senators'
fortunes, and the team made a commitment to him for next season
after removing his interim tag Wednesday and signing him to a
Though the Senators will miss the playoffs for the first time
since the 1995-96 season, they have gone 19-10-3 under Clouston
and their nine-game run at home is the longest in franchise
history. Ottawa won eight in a row during the 2002-03 season.
The Senators' latest win at Scotiabank Place was perhaps their
most impressive, beating East-leading Boston 3-2 on Tuesday
"I just wanted the opportunity to continue what we started
here," Clouston said. "I think the biggest thing that I'm
looking forward to, and it's a long way away from now, is
getting the next season started. How we're playing right now
gives us a lot of optimism."
Ottawa has won three straight overall, with its top goal scorer
heating up. Dany Heatley has 38 goals on the season, three in
his last two games.
Heatley, though, has been held without a point in his last six
games against New Jersey, facing Devils goaltender Martin
Brodeur in three of those contests.
Brodeur, who returned in late February after missing 50 games
following left elbow surgery, is essential to New Jersey's hopes
of making a run in the playoffs. The veteran, though, has given
up at least four goals in four of his last eight starts and has
a 3.56 goals-against average in his last nine games.
The Devils outshot Toronto 48-18 on Tuesday night, but Brodeur
struggled as New Jersey lost 4-1.
Langenbrunner was a bright spot for the Devils, scoring his 29th
goal to extend his point streak to three games (four goals, one
assist). The veteran winger has three goals and an assist in
three games against the Senators this season.
New Jersey hasn't swept the season series since winning all
three meetings in 1994-95.