NHL Game Summary - New Jersey at NY Islanders
(Tuesday, April 1st)
Final Score: New Jersey 2, NY Islanders 1 (OT)
Uniondale, NY (Sports Network) - Zach Parise's deflection goal 29 seconds into overtime lifted the New Jersey Devils to both a 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders and a playoff berth.
Patrik Elias also scored for New Jersey, which has won two straight following a five-game winless skid and will compete in the playoffs for the 11th consecutive season. Marty Brodeur turned aside 21 shots for the Devils, who now have 95 points and are still alive in the hunt for the Atlantic Division title.
"It's nice to have that 'X' next to our team in the standings, but now we have to fight for home ice (advantage)," said Devils coach Brent Sutter. "We want to go in (to the playoffs) playing well, and we can't have any bad habits sink in."
New Jersey, which currently holds the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, trails the Pittsburgh Penguins by five points. The Devils have three games remaining and the Penguins have two.
"That's why you see guys making commitments to play here a long time," said Brodeur. "We believe we have a chance to win the Stanley Cup every year and to do that, you have to get into the playoffs."
Josef Vasicek tallied the only goal for New York, which is winless in its last three games and will close its 2007-08 season with a home-and-home series against the cross-town rival Rangers on Thursday and Friday. Joey MacDonald allowed two goals on 47 shots for the Islanders, who had already been eliminated from postseason contention.
With the score tied 1-1, the contest went into overtime and the Devils needed only 29 seconds to skate off with the victory. Johnny Oduya held the puck at the left point, drifted toward the center of the blue line and released a wrister toward the net. From the low left slot, Parise beautifully deflected the puck past MacDonald for the game-winner and his 32nd goal of the season allowed the Devils to celebrate the hard-fought victory.
"It feels great -- obviously we've struggled a bit lately, but it was a solid performance," said stalwart New Jersey forward Sergei Brylin. "The last two periods we played really well. Every time we've played (the Islanders) this year, they've been tight, tough games, so it's special that we clinched against them."
The Islanders opened the scoring inside the final minute of the first period. The puck sat in the New Jersey defensive zone and Devils blueliner Andy Greene was about to clear it, but Bill Guerin dove at the feet of Greene and poked the puck forward, which sent Vasicek in on a partial breakaway. Vasicek deked to his backhand and beat Brodeur from in close with 52 seconds remaining before the first intermission.
"We knew we didn't play well (in the first period) and we didn't come out with the urgency and intensity we need at this time of year," said Parise of his club's effort in the opening stanza.
A power-play goal by Elias at the 5:42 mark of the second stanza knotted the contest. After a hooking minor was called on New York's Kyle Okposo, the Devils worked the puck around the perimeter until Oduya held control at the centerpoint. Oduya passed to Elias, who drifted in near the top of the left circle and sent a blazing slap shot past the far shoulder of MacDonald.
With 20 seconds to go in the second, the Isles nearly took the lead but Brodeur made a great save to keep the contest tied. Sean Bergenheim accepted a lead pass at the blue line and gained a late-developing breakaway, but Brodeur turned aside his wrister with the paddle.
As the third period wound down, New Jersey had several good scoring chances, including a John Madden wrister from inside the right circle with 2:35 to go and a rebound opportunity by Elias from the top of the crease inside the final minute of regulation. Both were turned aside by MacDonald, who made 13 saves in the third period.
Despite the loss, the Isles captured the season series, 6-2...New Jersey's remaining games are home versus Boston on Wednesday, at Philadelphia on Friday and a home tilt against the Rangers on Sunday, which is the final day of the NHL's regular season...The Isles are now 18-17-5 at home this season...The Devils snapped a three-game slide on Long Island...The Isles finished 0-for-2 on the power play, while the Devils were 1-for-3 with the extra skater...Attendance was 12,357.
04/01 23:58:03 ET