Devils beat Isles, clinch playoff spot

April 1, 2008 6:54:42 PM PDT
Zach Parise deflected in Johnny Oduya's shot 29 seconds into overtime for the New Jersey Devils, who clinched an Eastern Conference playoff berth with a 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Tuesday night.The Devils strengthened their hold on fourth place in the East and stayed alive in the race for the Atlantic Division title. Anything other than a win by New Jersey, would have given the crown to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

New Jersey, in the playoffs for the 11th straight season, trails Pittsburgh by five points with three games to play, and has a two-point edge over the New York Rangers in the East chase.

Parise won it with the Devils' 47th shot at third-string goalie Joey MacDonald. Oduya also had the primary assist on Patrik Elias' second-period goal that got New Jersey even at 1.

Martin Brodeur stopped 21 shots for his 42nd victory over the season, allowing only a goal to Josef Vasicek in the first period.

The Devils played for the first time since snapping a season-worst, five-game losing streak (0-4-1) by beating Philadelphia in a shootout on Friday. They finished the season series with the also-ran Islanders 2-5-1, which damaged their chances to win the Atlantic.

New Jersey tied it during a dominant second period when they outshot the Islanders 20-5. The tying goal came during the Devils' third power play of the game.

Elias skated into the left circle and stepped into a hard slap shot that slammed into the net just under the crossbar at 5:42. That gave Elias seven 20-goal seasons in the past eight.

MacDonald looked solid in making just his second NHL appearance of the season. He got the call over Wade Dubielewicz, the No. 1 backup for injured starter Rick DiPietro, who is expected to play both ends of a season-ending home-and-home series against the New York Rangers on Thursday and Friday.

The Islanders, long out of the Eastern Conference playoff race, would like nothing more to derail the Rangers' postseason plans in the final week of the season.