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Devils Rout Flyers for 10th Win in Row

April 17, 2006|From the Associated Press

The New Jersey Devils' improbable goal of winning the Atlantic Division title is now within their grasp.

Brian Gionta extended his points streak to 14 games and Patrik Elias had two goals to lead the surging Devils to their 10th straight win, 5-1 over the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday at East Rutherford, N.J.

The Devils and Flyers each have 99 points, good for a fifth-place tie in the Eastern Conference. Both are one point behind the Atlantic Division-leading New York Rangers. The three teams each have one game left.

It was a remarkable turnaround for the Devils, who were in danger of missing the playoffs before beginning the streak.

"It was farfetched to think about the title," Martin Brodeur said after making 25 saves for his 42nd win. "We just went about our business. It took us all these games in a row to put us in this position."

Scott Gomez and Jamie Langenbrunner also scored for the Devils, who have the longest winning streak in the NHL this season. The Devils' all-time record is 13 straight wins from Feb. 26 to March 23, 2001.

No one contributed more than Gionta, who has 10 goals and 12 assists in his 14-game streak.

"We focused in and wanted to finish strong in the last 10, 11 games," Gionta said. "We'll see what happens. Things still have to happen for us to get the title. We just need to take care of what we need to take care of."

Simon Gagne scored for the Flyers, who lost twice to the Devils in a span of four days.

"We had a lot of shots but we didn't have a lot of great chances," Flyer forward Mike Knuble said. "They did a great job of keeping us to the outside. They've won a lot of games and here they are."

Gionta and Elias scored first-period goals to stake the Devils to a 2-0 lead.

Gionta put in his own rebound at 5:56 for his 46th goal, tying the Devils' season mark set by Pat Verbeek in the 1987-88 season.

Gionta took a feed from Gomez and fired a close-in shot on Robert Esche, who made the initial stop. The puck landed behind the goalie and Gionta backhanded the rebound into the net before Esche could recover.

Elias connected from the right circle late in the period as he took a blue-line feed from Brad Lukowich and hit the far side of the goal.

Gomez scored at 2:24 of the second to increase the Devil lead to 3-0. Esche was replaced by Antero Niittymaki after that goal.

"They've got everything working for them right now," Esche said. "They are really clicking."

The goalie change provided a quick spark for the Flyers as Gagne got his 46th goal 30 seconds later.


Buffalo 6, Toronto 0 -- Ryan Miller made 31 saves at Buffalo, N.Y., for his first shutout of the season.

Chris Drury scored twice and Brian Campbell had a goal and two assists in the playoff-bound Sabres' regular-season home finale. Paul Gaustad had a goal and an assist, and Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville also scored to extend Buffalo's winning streak to four.

Miller was particularly sharp in the second period, stopping 16 shots to register his second career shutout. It was also the Sabres' first shutout of the season; Buffalo had been one of only two teams not to have recorded a shutout this season, Colorado being the other.


Phoenix 3, St. Louis 0 -- Curtis Joseph made 40 saves at St. Louis for his fourth shutout and the Coyotes ended their season with a victory.

Joseph, who recorded his 47th career shutout, still ranks second in St. Louis franchise history in wins (137), games played (280) and minutes (15,987). He finished with a 32-21-3 record in his first season with the Coyotes and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Shane Doan scored his career-high 30th goal and Joel Perrault had his first career goal. Mike Johnson scored the third goal for the Coyotes.


Chicago 4, Columbus 3 -- Kyle Calder scored with 4:32 left in the third period at Chicago to help the Blackhawks end a five-game losing streak.

Calder scored his 25th goal of the season, beating Pascal Leclaire with a shot from 25 feet out in the slot.

Radim Vrbata, Dustin Byfuglien and Mark Bell also scored for Chicago, which won for only the second time in nine games.

Columbus' Sergei Fedorov had a short-handed goal and assisted on scores by David Vyborny and Rick Nash.

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