Devils can clinch division title with win over Senators - The Hockey News on Sports Illustrated

Devils can clinch division title with win over Senators

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By Anthony Giornalista

Stats Senior Writer

New Jersey (49-27-4) at Ottawa (36-34-10), 7:30 p.m. EST

OTTAWA (AP) -- Success against Ottawa has helped put the New

Jersey Devils in position to secure yet another Atlantic

Division title. Most teams fared well versus the Senators before

Cory Clouston took over.

The Devils have a chance to sweep their season series with the

Senators and clinch their third division championship in four

years Thursday night, but they visit a club that has won a

franchise-record nine straight at home under Clouston's

guidance.

New Jersey (49-27-4), third in the Eastern Conference, will

finish first in the Atlantic by earning a point in one of its

last two games or if Philadelphia loses one of its final three.

The Devils are five points ahead of the second-place Flyers, who

visit the New York Rangers on Thursday night.

But New Jersey has lost seven of its last nine (2-6-1) and is in

desperate need of some momentum heading into the playoffs.

"Everybody around us is playing well and we have to figure a way

to do the same," said Devils winger Jamie Langenbrunner, whose

team concludes the regular season at home against Carolina on

Saturday. "We have two games left and we have to find a way to

win both of those."

A matchup with Ottawa (36-34-10) may help New Jersey get back on

track. The Devils have won five straight versus the Senators

since a 4-1 home loss Oct. 27, 2007.

However, New Jersey's three wins in this season's series came

before Clouston took over as Ottawa's coach Feb. 2, when Craig

Hartsburg was fired. Clouston has changed the Senators'

fortunes, and the team made a commitment to him for next season

after removing his interim tag Wednesday and signing him to a

two-year deal.

Though the Senators will miss the playoffs for the first time

since the 1995-96 season, they have gone 19-10-3 under Clouston

and their nine-game run at home is the longest in franchise

history. Ottawa won eight in a row during the 2002-03 season.

The Senators' latest win at Scotiabank Place was perhaps their

most impressive, beating East-leading Boston 3-2 on Tuesday

night.

"I just wanted the opportunity to continue what we started

here," Clouston said. "I think the biggest thing that I'm

looking forward to, and it's a long way away from now, is

getting the next season started. How we're playing right now

gives us a lot of optimism."

Ottawa has won three straight overall, with its top goal scorer

heating up. Dany Heatley has 38 goals on the season, three in

his last two games.

Heatley, though, has been held without a point in his last six

games against New Jersey, facing Devils goaltender Martin

Brodeur in three of those contests.

Brodeur, who returned in late February after missing 50 games

following left elbow surgery, is essential to New Jersey's hopes

of making a run in the playoffs. The veteran, though, has given

up at least four goals in four of his last eight starts and has

a 3.56 goals-against average in his last nine games.

The Devils outshot Toronto 48-18 on Tuesday night, but Brodeur

struggled as New Jersey lost 4-1.

Langenbrunner was a bright spot for the Devils, scoring his 29th

goal to extend his point streak to three games (four goals, one

assist). The veteran winger has three goals and an assist in

three games against the Senators this season.

New Jersey hasn't swept the season series since winning all

three meetings in 1994-95.

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