NEWARK, N.J. – Travis Zajac matched his career-high with three assists, Patrik Elias scored twice, and the New Jersey Devils clinched a second straight Atlantic Division title with a 7-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Saturday night.
Dainius Zubrus, Zach Parise and Dean McAmmond scored in a 4:54 span of the first period to ignite the Devils’ biggest offensive output of the season and largest margin of victory.
Elias and Brian Rolston added second-period, power-play goals, and Ilya Kovalchuk and Elias tallied in the third for New Jersey, which clinched the Atlantic when Pittsburgh lost 1-0 at Atlanta on Saturday night.
Matt Moulson spoiled Martin Brodeur’s bid for his 10th shutout of the season when he scored a power-play goal with 6:50 remaining.
New Jersey will face the Buffalo Sabres, the winners of the Northeast Division, on Sunday in the final game of the regular season. The No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference will be on the line.
The Devils took command in the opening period, in large part because of shoddy play by Martin Biron.
The Islanders goalie lost his balance and fell to the ice after Devils defenceman Paul Martin flubbed a shot from the point. The puck went low in the right circle, and Zubrus took a bad angle shot that banked in off Biron and defenceman Bruno Gervais at 10:54.
Parise stretched the lead to 2-0 about 3½ minutes later, swiping the rebound of Colin White’s shot into an open net.
Zajac had assists on those two goals and on tallies by Rolston and Kovalchuk.
McAmmond closed the outbrust with a bad-angle shot from the left circle that found its way between Biron’s pads.
Elias stretched the lead to 4-0 at 11:16 of the second period with a power-play shot that deflected in front. Parise originally was given credit for the goal but replays showed that it might have hit Islanders defenceman Jack Hillen.
Rolston reached the 20-goal mark for the seventh time in his career in the final minute of the period with a blue-line blast off a nice cross-ice pass by Kovalchuk, who also had the primary assist on Elias’ 18th goal.
Kovalchuk scored midway through the final period, deflecting a point shot by defenceman Andy Greene. Elias got his 19th with a bad-angle shot that deflected past Biron.
Moulson got his 29th of the season in close, swatting a pass from John Tavares between Brodeur’s legs.
NOTES: New Jersey won the season series 4-2. … Parise had a team-high four goals against the Islanders. … Centres Rod Pelley of the Devils and Michael Haley of the Islanders fought in the second period with both lightweights landing good punches.