Devils Clinch Atlantic Division

Here is my recap of the Devils 7-1 win over the NY Islanders on Saturday night:

Devils Clinch Atlantic Division

Devils 7           NY Islanders 1

The New Jersey Devils clinched their 9th Atlantic Division title on Saturday night when they beat the New York Islanders 7-1 at Prudential Center, and Pittsburgh lost 1-0 in Atlanta. Zach Parise, Travis Zajac and Ilya Kovalchuk all had three-point games in the win for New Jersey, which scored a season-high seven goals against the injury-riddled Islanders who were missing seven regulars from their lineup. For the Devils it was their fourth division title in five years and something Martin Brodeur has become accustomed to over his career. “You go into a building and look up at the banners and you’re like ‘I was a part of this, this, this,’” said Brodeur. “It’s fun; I’ve been here a long time, other guys for them it’s their first one and more to come.”

The Isles hung tough at first but in a span of 4:56 the Devils took control of the game — scoring three goals — and never looked back. Dainius Zubrus, Parise and Dean McAmmond scored in three different ways — at times leaving New York goaltender Martin Biron spinning in his crease. “We focused on playing hard — once we got two or three (goals) on them,” said McAmmond, “they knew it was over.”

Parise made it 2-0 and then McAmmond scored 90 seconds later to bump the lead to three goals. “I just grabbed the puck and their d-man was flat-footed,” explained McAmmond. “I just got on an angle, tried to go five-hole and it went to the outside of the net, handcuffed the goalie and the shot went off the net and the back of his knee. Sometimes they go in that way.”

Patrik Elias and Brian Rolston each scored power play goals in the second period (Kovalchuk had the primary assist on both) as the Devils advantage increased to 5-0.

Kovalchuk scored his own goal in the third period (on a nice deflection in front of the crease) making it 6-0 before Matt Moulson got the Isles lone goal during a power play with 6:50 left in the game; spoiling Brodeur’s bid for a third shutout in four games. “Five-on-five I don’t think they would’ve got anything on us,” said Brodeur, who missed out on shutout no. 111 of his career. “We made a little mistake and the guy hit the puck out of mid-air on the goal line there, so it is what it is.”

Elias scored the final goal of the barrage when his attempted pass from the corner sailed past Biron, deflecting off of Islanders’ defenseman Andrew MacDonald at 18:24. “It was a really big win for us; we’re trying to get ready for the playoffs here,” said Zajac, who had three assists. “To get scoring from all the lines, and the power play, it’s good for us going into the playoffs on a high note.”

Game Notes: New Jersey now has 101 points, the 12th time they topped one hundred points in team history and the 12th time in the past 13 seasons; the game was a sellout, the 15th of 2009-10. Elias now has 70 points in 65 career games against New York, the most of any active player vs. the Isles. Devils defenseman Paul Martin had two assists and led all skaters in ice-time with 22:23; Mark Streit led the Islanders with 22:00. Kovalchuk led all players with six sots on goal and Kyle Okposo led New York with four; Isles defenseman Freddy Meyer led all players with four hits. Both teams will play their final regular season games on Sunday — New Jersey (47-27-7) hosts Buffalo (45-26-10) in a battle for the East’s second seed and New York (34-37-10) hosts Pittsburgh (46-28-7).

Dan’s Three Stars of the Game:

#1 – Travis Zajac (NJ) – 3 assists (42)

#2 – Ilya Kovalchuk (NJ) – goal (41), 2 assists (43)

#3 – Patrik Elias (NJ) – 2 goals (19)

Dan Rice covers the New Jersey Devils & NHL for NYCSportsnetwork.com, & contributes to MaxHockey.com and IslesNation.com. He can be reached at drdiablo321@yahoo.com.

line combos/d-pairings
New Jersey:
Parise-Elias-Zubrus
Kovalchuk-Zajac-Langenbrunner
Leblond-Niedermayer-Clarkson
Rolston-McAmmond-Pelley

Martin-Skoula
White-Mottau
Greene-Salvador

NY Islanders:
Moulson-Park-Okposo
Bergenheim-Tavares-Sim
Tambellini-Nielsen-Hunter
Gillies-Haley-Jackman

Streit-Gervais
Hillen-MacDonald
Meyer-Reese

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