Call it consistency. Call it good team-building.
Whatever you call it, the New Jersey Devils have built a perennial winner. The team exploded for seven goals to defeat the New York Islanders, 7-1, to clinch their ninth division title.
The Devils will have a chance to wrap-up the second seed tomorrow against the Buffalo Sabres.
Dainius Zubrus, Zach Parise and Dean McAmmond scored in a span of 4:54 to put the Devils ahead, 3-0, in the first period.
Zubrus opened the scoring at 10:54 of the first period. Islanders goalie Martin Biron lost his balance and fell to the ice after Paul Martin whiffed on a shot from the point. Zubrus gained control of the loose puck in the right circle, and his shot deflected off of Biron and defenseman Bruno Gervais and into the net for Zubrus’ 10th goal of the season.
Parise stretched the lead to two at 14:18 of the period. Colin White put a shot on net, and Biron left a rebound in front. Parise swiped the puck into an open net for his 38th goal of the year.
McAmmond extended the lead to three with his goal at 15:48. McAmmond took a bad angle shot, but the puck found a way through Biron’s pads and into the back of the net for his eighth goal of the season.
The Devils kept scoring in the second, tallying two more scores. Patrik Elias tallied on the powerplay at 11:16 of the second period to stretch the lead to four. With Trevor Gillies in the box for unsportsmanlike conduct, Elias fired a shot on net that deflected off of Islanders’ defenseman Jack Hillen and into the back of the net for Elias’ 18th goal of the season.
Brian Rolston reached the 20-goal plateau with another powerplay tally at 19:11 of the period. With Tim Jackman in the box for roughing, the Devils worked the puck around the offensive zone. Ilya Kovalchuk passed the puck to Rolston, who blasted home a shot from the blue line for the goal.
Kovalchuk kept the scoring going in the third period. Defenseman Andy Greene took a shot from the point that Kovalchuk deflected past Biron for his 41st goal of the year.
Matt Moulson spoiled Martin Brodeur’s shutout bid at 13:10 of the third period. With David Clarkson in the box for unsportsmanlike conduct, John Tavares controlled the puck in the Devils’ zone. He passed the puck to Moulson, who swatted home the pass for his 29th goal of the season.
Elias scored his second goal at 18:24 of the third period. Elias fired a bad-angle shot on net, but, much like McAmmond’s goal, the puck found a way to get through Biron and into the back of the net.
Biron stopped 30 shots in the loss. Brodeur made 18 saves for the win.
With the win, the Devils sealed their second consecutive conference championship. Buffalo’s win over the Senators tonight sets up a one-game showdown between the two teams for second place in the conference.
With the win, the Devils won the season series over the Islanders, 4-2…This is the second night in a row the Islanders allowed seven goals…Devils center Rod Pelley and Islanders center Michael Haley, two lightweights, fought at 5:41 of the second period. Both landed several good punches.