NHL Game Summary - New Jersey at Ottawa
(Thursday, April 9th)
Final Score: New Jersey 3, Ottawa 2 (SO)
Ottawa, ON (Sports Network) - Brendan Shanahan scored the shootout winner, and the New Jersey Devils wrapped up the Atlantic Division title in a 3-2 win against the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place.
The Devils needed just a point to win the division for the third time in four seasons and did so even before Shanahan lit the lamp by way of Philadelphia's loss to the Rangers earlier in the evening. However, the triumph did give New Jersey its franchise-best 50th win of the season.
New Jersey is now firmly locked into the Eastern Conference's third seed as Washington clinched the No. 2 slot with a win against Tampa Bay earlier Thursday.
Brian Gionta and Brian Rolston scored in regulation while Martin Brodeur made 28 saves for the Devils, who have now won three of four following an untimely six-game slide.
"I think that's the kind of hockey you have to play in the playoffs. You have to play those tight games. You have to limit your mistakes. For a while there we were getting away from it but the last couple games we're getting back on track," New Jersey forward Zach Parise said.
Dany Heatley scored to force overtime with exactly one minute remaining in regulation and Jarkko Ruutu found the back of the net in the first period for the Senators, who were riding a franchise-record nine-game winning streak at home and three-game win streak overall. Alex Auld had 30 saves in defeat.
The Sens' recent stretch earned new head coach Cory Clouston a two-year contract through the 2010-11 season on Wednesday. Clouston took over the for the fired Craig Hartsburg on February 2 with the Senators mired in last place in the Northeast Division at 17-24-7. While Ottawa will miss the playoffs for the first time since the 1995-96 campaign, the team has responded to the coaching change by producing a mark of 19-10-4 under Clouston.
Shanahan's wrister escaped the grasp of Auld and found twine in the top right corner to begin the second round. Brodeur came back to stone Mike Fisher and Jamie Langenbrunner had a chance to win it, but Auld kept the pads together on a low shot.
Brodeur then sprawled to his right and deflected a Jason Spezza backhander up high for the win.
"We wanted to get the win tonight. The fans have been great even though we've been out of the playoff race. It's unfortunate we didn't get the results but we had a good effort," said Spezza.
Ruutu was camped to Brodeur's left and was in position to put back the rebound off a Brian Lee slap shot from the right point for the early lead 4:13 into the game.
Gionta and Rolston swung the momentum New Jersey's way with goals 46 seconds apart in the second, but Heatley was able to capitalize on a mad scramble by Ottawa near the end of regulation.
Fisher got behind the defense and even a flailing Brodeur, but chipped a bouncing puck off the right post. The Senators retained possession, though, and Heatley was able to rip one from the slot to tie the game.
"It got chaotic. I was all over the place. I'm sure all my players were too," Brodeur said of the final sequence in regulation.
The Devils got forward Patrik Elias back after missing the last four games with a lower-body injury. Elias is second on the team in goals (31) and points (78) this season...New Jersey played in its final road game of the regular season and will close the campaign with Saturday's test against Carolina...The Devils are 23-15-3 as the guest this year and had lost six in a row on the road before winning in Buffalo this past Saturday...The Senators are 22-12-7 as the host this year and played their final home game of the season...Ottawa will complete its 2008-09 schedule with Saturday's test in Toronto...New Jersey completed the four-game season series sweep...The Devils have taken six in a row and nine of 11 from Ottawa and have won three straight and four of five in Canada's capital city.
04/10 00:34:56 ET