Madden's goal lifts Devils in OT

Devils 2, Capitals 1 Overtime
February 24, 2008 3:46:18 PM PST
John Madden backhanded a rebound under goalie Brent Johnson's pad with 50 remaining in overtime, and the New Jersey Devils moved into the first place in the Eastern Conference with a 2-1 victory Sunday over the Washington Capitals.Martin Brodeur, making his 22nd consecutive start, made 37 saves for the Devils, who have won five straight and seven of eight to move ahead of idle Ottawa in a crowded race for the conference's top seed.

Jamie Langenbrunner scored on a 5-on-3 power play early in the third period for the Devils. Alexander Semin tied the game about two minutes later for the Capitals, who picked up a point but are struggling to keep pace with first-place Carolina in the Southeast Division.

Sunday's contest of one of the coveted "games in hand" the Capitals had against the Hurricanes. Carolina began the day with a six-point lead in the division - having beaten Washington on Saturday - but the Capitals had played three fewer games. Both teams play again on Tuesday.

Alex Ovechkin, who leads the NHL with 48 goals, was held without a goal for a season-high fifth straight game, but he and the Capitals had plenty of near-misses. Matt Bradley hit the post and Eric Fehr nailed the crossbar, both in the first period. Washington outshot the Devils 15-6 in the first period and 13-4 in the second.

But Brodeur, 14-6-2 during his consecutive games streak, was again masterful, even after he was staggered by a shot that hit him in the upper chest in the first period. Brooks Laich had several swipes at the puck in the crease late in the second period, but he couldn't put it past the veteran goalie's pad. Ovechkin had a great run from his own blue line in the same period, tossing ahead Paul Martin along the way, but he was again thwarted by Brodeur.

After two scoreless periods, Langenbrunner put a slap shot past Johnson's stick side in the first minute of the third period - and with one second remaining on a two-man advantage from a pair of high-sticking calls on the Capitals.

Semin tied the game about two minutes later, taking a pass from Ovechkin and skating through and around the Devils defense. With Sergei Brylin on his back and two other New Jersey skaters in front of him, Semin skated left in front of the net and backhanded a shot past Brodeur for his fifth goal in as many games.