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Devils top Senators, claim Atlantic title

PA Stats Inc
By:
The Hockey News
News

Devils top Senators, claim Atlantic title

PA Stats Inc
By:

OTTAWA (AP) -- With another division title already sewn up, the
New Jersey Devils brushed off a late, tying goal by Ottawa and
set a franchise record.

Zach Parise and Brendan Shanahan scored in the shootout to give
New Jersey a 3-2 win over the Senators on Thursday night.

The Devils, who improved to 50-27-4 to set a new franchise
record for wins, already had clinched first place in the
Atlantic Division and third place overall in the Eastern
Conference by virtue of the New York Rangers' triumph over the
Philadelphia Flyers.

New Jersey has won three of four following a six-game losing
streak (0-5-1).

"We're on our way," Parise said. "We did a pretty good job of
eliminating opportunities, and we've got to start burying some
of our chances, too, but we're getting there. We knew it wasn't
going to be overnight, but we've got one more game before the
playoffs and we're slowly getting there."

Dany Heatley scored his 39th goal to draw Ottawa even at 2 with
a minute left in the third period. The Senators' All-Star left
wing scored his fourth in three games to tie it when he drove a
shot past Martin Brodeur from the slot to cap a wild scramble
around the Devils' goal.

"We were happy with the effort," said Brian Gionta, who scored
the first of New Jersey's two goals 36 seconds apart early in
the second. "Obviously, if we could have clamped down and not
allowed that last goal, it would have been better, but we did a
lot of good things tonight."

New Jersey, which won 49 games in 2006-07, claimed its third
division title in four seasons.

"It's a tough division, and to finish first overall is another
feather in the players' hats," coach Brent Sutter said.

Brodeur, who missed 50 games because of a torn left biceps that
required surgery, acknowledged the goaltending contributions
made by Scott Clemmensen and Kevin Weekes during his absence.

"I've been around and I was surprised that we never did it,"
Brodeur said. "The year I won 48, we won only 49, so it's good
for the team, the guys that were here and the players that went
up and down, guys who contributed like Clemmer, and Weeksie,
also."

Brodeur stopped Mike Fisher and Jason Spezza after Daniel
Alfredsson scored on Ottawa's first shot. He made 28 saves and
raised his all-time wins record to 556 in his 998th regular
season game. Brodeur, who has 101 career shutouts, two behind
Terry Sawchuk's NHL record of 103, has played 59,962 minutes -
38 short of 60,000 with one game remaining.

"It's nice to have home-ice advantage," Brodeur said. "I know
we were going to get it anyway, but the higher you get in the
standings, the better it is."

The Devils finish their regular season Saturday against
Carolina.

"I think I want to play," Brodeur said. "I need the work, I
need to play - it's been a tough last couple of weeks. When I
first came back from my injury, it was great. Now I've won
three games out of the last four, and I just want to keep
going."

Jarkko Ruutu also scored for the Senators, who had their
franchise-record home winning streak stopped nine in their last
game of the season at Scotiabank Place.

"It's unfortunate we couldn't finish off with a win for the fans
in the shootout, but we showed a lot of character battling
back," said Jesse Winchester, who assisted on both Ottawa goals.

The Senators, who will miss the playoffs for the first time
since 1996, finish their season Saturday night in Toronto.

Gionta scored his 20th goal 3:01 into the second to draw New
Jersey even at 1. Gionta's goal came two seconds after a
too-many-men penalty against Ottawa expired.

Brian Rolston gave the Devils their first lead at 3:47 as New
Jersey took advantage of sloppy play by Alex Auld behind his
net.

The Ottawa goalie stopped the puck along the boards and left it
behind the net, and Devils forward David Clarkson pounced on it.
Clarkson attempted a wraparound while Auld tried to scramble
back into position, and Rolston put away the puck when it came
loose for his 15th goal.

Ruutu gave Ottawa a 1-0 lead with his seventh goal 4:13 in.

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Devils top Senators, claim Atlantic title