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Devils top Senators, claim Atlantic title

OTTAWA (AP) -- With another division title already sewn up, the

New Jersey Devils brushed off a late, tying goal by Ottawa and

set a franchise record.

Zach Parise and Brendan Shanahan scored in the shootout to give

New Jersey a 3-2 win over the Senators on Thursday night.

The Devils, who improved to 50-27-4 to set a new franchise

record for wins, already had clinched first place in the

Atlantic Division and third place overall in the Eastern

Conference by virtue of the New York Rangers' triumph over the

Philadelphia Flyers.

New Jersey has won three of four following a six-game losing

streak (0-5-1).

"We're on our way," Parise said. "We did a pretty good job of

eliminating opportunities, and we've got to start burying some

of our chances, too, but we're getting there. We knew it wasn't

going to be overnight, but we've got one more game before the

playoffs and we're slowly getting there."

Dany Heatley scored his 39th goal to draw Ottawa even at 2 with

a minute left in the third period. The Senators' All-Star left

wing scored his fourth in three games to tie it when he drove a

shot past Martin Brodeur from the slot to cap a wild scramble

around the Devils' goal.

"We were happy with the effort," said Brian Gionta, who scored

the first of New Jersey's two goals 36 seconds apart early in

the second. "Obviously, if we could have clamped down and not

allowed that last goal, it would have been better, but we did a

lot of good things tonight."

New Jersey, which won 49 games in 2006-07, claimed its third

division title in four seasons.

"It's a tough division, and to finish first overall is another

feather in the players' hats," coach Brent Sutter said.

Brodeur, who missed 50 games because of a torn left biceps that

required surgery, acknowledged the goaltending contributions

made by Scott Clemmensen and Kevin Weekes during his absence.

"I've been around and I was surprised that we never did it,"

Brodeur said. "The year I won 48, we won only 49, so it's good

for the team, the guys that were here and the players that went

up and down, guys who contributed like Clemmer, and Weeksie,

also."

Brodeur stopped Mike Fisher and Jason Spezza after Daniel

Alfredsson scored on Ottawa's first shot. He made 28 saves and

raised his all-time wins record to 556 in his 998th regular

season game. Brodeur, who has 101 career shutouts, two behind

Terry Sawchuk's NHL record of 103, has played 59,962 minutes -

38 short of 60,000 with one game remaining.

"It's nice to have home-ice advantage," Brodeur said. "I know

we were going to get it anyway, but the higher you get in the

standings, the better it is."

The Devils finish their regular season Saturday against

Carolina.

"I think I want to play," Brodeur said. "I need the work, I

need to play - it's been a tough last couple of weeks. When I

first came back from my injury, it was great. Now I've won

three games out of the last four, and I just want to keep

going."

Jarkko Ruutu also scored for the Senators, who had their

franchise-record home winning streak stopped nine in their last

game of the season at Scotiabank Place.

"It's unfortunate we couldn't finish off with a win for the fans

in the shootout, but we showed a lot of character battling

back," said Jesse Winchester, who assisted on both Ottawa goals.

The Senators, who will miss the playoffs for the first time

since 1996, finish their season Saturday night in Toronto.

Gionta scored his 20th goal 3:01 into the second to draw New

Jersey even at 1. Gionta's goal came two seconds after a

too-many-men penalty against Ottawa expired.

Brian Rolston gave the Devils their first lead at 3:47 as New

Jersey took advantage of sloppy play by Alex Auld behind his

net.

The Ottawa goalie stopped the puck along the boards and left it

behind the net, and Devils forward David Clarkson pounced on it.

Clarkson attempted a wraparound while Auld tried to scramble

back into position, and Rolston put away the puck when it came

loose for his 15th goal.

Ruutu gave Ottawa a 1-0 lead with his seventh goal 4:13 in.

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