|PHI||0||1||0||(0 - 0)||1|
|NJD||2||2||1||(0 - 0)||5|
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - The New Jersey Devils' improbable goal of winning the Atlantic Division title is now within their grasp.
Brian Gionta extended his points streak to 14 games and Patrik Elias had two goals to lead the surging Devils to their 10th straight win, 5-1 over the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday.
The Devils and Flyers each have 99 points, good for a fifth-place tie in the Eastern Conference. Both are one point behind the Atlantic Division-leading New York Rangers. The three teams each have one game remaining.
It was a remarkable turnaround for the Devils, who were in danger of missing the playoffs before beginning the streak.
"It was far-fetched to think about the title," Martin Brodeur said after making 25 saves for his 42nd win. "We just went about our business. It took us all these games in a row to put us in this position."
Scott Gomez and Jamie Langenbrunner also scored for the Devils, who own the longest winning streak in the NHL this season. The Devils' all-time record is 13 straight wins from Feb. 26-March 23, 2001.
No one contributed more than Gionta, who has 10 goals and 12 assists in his 14-game streak.
"We focused in and wanted to finish strong in the last 10, 11 games," Gionta said. "We'll see what happens. Things still have to happen for us to get the title. We just need to take care of what we need to take care of."
Simon Gagne scored for the Flyers, who lost twice to the Devils in a span of four days.
"We had a lot of shots but we didn't have a lot of great chances," Flyers forward Mike Knuble said. "They did a great job of keeping us to the outside. They've won a lot of games and here they are."
Gionta and Elias scored first-period goals to stake the Devils to a 2-0 lead.
Gionta put in his own rebound at 5:56 for his 46th goal, tying the Devils' season mark set by Pat Verbeek in the 1987-88 season.
Gionta took a feed from Gomez and fired a close-in shot on Robert Esche, who made the initial stop. The puck landed behind the goalie and Gionta backhanded the rebound into the net before Esche could recover.
Elias connected from the right circle late in the period as he took a blue-line feed from Brad Lukowich and hit the far side of the goal.
Gomez scored at 2:24 of the second to increase the Devils lead to 3-0. Esche was replaced by Antero Niittymaki following that goal.
"They've got everything working for them right now," Esche said. "They are really clicking."
The goalie change provided a quick spark for the Flyers as Gagne got his 46th goal 30 seconds later.
The Flyers' hopes for a comeback victory faded when Langenbrunner put New Jersey up 4-1. In the third, Elias scored his second goal to increase the lead to 5-1.
"Everyone is doing their job right now," Elias said. "We're doing the things we have to do and we're playing good hockey. We're feeling good about ourselves."
Notes: Elias' first goal was his 500th career point. ... Devils C Sergei Brylin played in his 600th game. ... The Flyers scratched C Peter Forsberg for the fifth time in the last six games. He returned Saturday in the Flyers' 4-1 win over the New York Rangers after missing four games with a groin injury. ... Gionta's scoring streak is one shy of the club record set by Elias in the 1999-2000 season. ... The Devils took the season series from the Flyers 5-3. ... Lukowich had three assists. ... Devils defenseman Colin White injured his groin and did not return for the third period.
|Brian Gionta Wrist shot - ASST: Scott Gomez , Brian Rafalski|
1 - 0 NJD
|Patrik Elias Wrist shot - ASST: Brad Lukowich , Brian Rafalski|
2 - 0 NJD
|Scott Gomez Wrist shot - ASST: Brian Gionta , Zach Parise|
3 - 0 NJD
|Simon Gagne Wrist shot - ASST: Michael Richards|
3 - 1 NJD
|Jamie Langenbrunner Backhand shot - ASST: Brad Lukowich , Patrik Elias|
4 - 1 NJD
|Patrik Elias Slapshot - ASST: Jamie Langenbrunner , Brad Lukowich|
5 - 1 NJD
|Jeff Carter Hooking against Ken Klee|
|Jason Wiemer Cross checking against Eric Desjardins|
|Eric Desjardins Cross checking against Brian Gionta|
|Denis Gauthier Fighting (maj) against Grant Marshall|
|Grant Marshall Fighting (maj) against Denis Gauthier|
|Grant Marshall Boarding against Eric Desjardins|
|Jamie Langenbrunner Tripping against Jeff Carter|
|Jeff Carter Interference against Jamie Langenbrunner|
|Mike Rathje Delaying Game-Puck over glass|
|Joni Pitkanen Holding against Sergei Brylin|
|Ken Klee Holding against Michael Richards|