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Devils score into empty net with 3 seconds left, beat Sabres 2-1 for No. 2 seed

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

NEWARK, N.J. - Jamie Langenbrunner scored an empty-net, power-play goal with three seconds left and the New Jersey Devils earned the No. 2 playoff seed in the Eastern Conference with a 2-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday.

The Sabres needed to win the game in regulation to earn the No. 2 seed and they pulled goalie Patrick Lalime with about 10 seconds to go to put an extra skater on the ice.

It backfired seconds later when Langenbrunner took a pass from Zach Parise and found the empty net.

Travis Zajac also scored and Martin Brodeur stopped 22 shots, including a great leg save on Toni Lydman with 2:35 to play. The Devils will meet seventh-seeded Philadelphia in the opening round of the playoffs. The Flyers beat New Jersey in five of six games this season.

Thomas Vanek scored his fifth goal in two days for the Northeast Division champion Sabres, who wound up with the No. 3 seed in the East and will play sixth-seeded Boston in the first round. The Bruins won the season series 4-2.

By yielding only one goal, Brodeur wrapped up his fifth William M. Jennings Trophy for fewest goals allowed. New Jersey gave up an NHL-low 191 goals this season.

Lalime, who got the start with the Sabres electing to give Ryan Miller an extra day off before the playoffs, and Brodeur were both outstanding in the third period.

Lalime made 33 saves, including two great stops on David Clarkson, one on Patrik Elias and one on Langenbrunner in the final period.

Besides the stop on Lydman, Brodeur made a terrific stop on a power-play deflection by Derek Roy in the opening minutes of the final period.

Penalties hurt the Sabres in the final minutes, though. Steve Montador was called for holding at 17:37 and Mike Grier also was whistled for holding with a minute to go, giving New Jersey a two-man advantage for 36 seconds, virtually assuring it the No. 2 seed.

Zajac, who had three assists Saturday night when the Devils wrapped up their second straight Atlantic Division title, tied the game one-all at 6:27 of the second by putting a rebound past Lalime, who started for only the third time in 16 games.

Lalime stopped defenceman Paul Martin's shot from the point, but Ilya Kovalchuk nudged the rebound to Zajac, who fired his 25th goal of the season into an open net.

Vanek, who had a career-high four goals Saturday night in a win over Ottawa, beat Brodeur in close at 1:10 of the second. Roy did most of the work, collecting the rebound of Tim Kennedy's shot behind the net and finding Vanek on the edge of the crease for an easy goal.

NOTES: New York Jets coach Rex Ryan was at the game, wearing a Devils jersey. ... With D Colin White given the game off, Zajac was the only Devil to play all 82 regular-season games. D Henrik Tallinder, RW Jason Pominville and rookie D Tyler Myers played in all 82 for the Sabres. ... The teams split the season series 2-2. ... The public address system went down for about 10 minutes in the second period.

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