Now that their longest losing streak of the season is over, the New Jersey Devils can focus on securing their 11th straight trip to the playoffs.
The Devils look to clinch a postseason berth Tuesday when they visit the New York Islanders.
New Jersey (43-28-7) can clinch with a win or with a Washington regulation loss to Carolina. The Devils could have gotten in Saturday had the Capitals lost in regulation, but they won 3-0 in Florida.
New Jersey is five points ahead of Washington, which is ninth in the Eastern Conference.
The Devils have not missed the playoffs since 1995-96, winning two Stanley Cup titles since then. They won their first championship in 1995 in their sixth consecutive trip to the postseason.
New Jersey beat Philadelphia 5-4 in a shootout Friday to end a five-game losing streak. Brian Gionta, Patrik Elias and Jamie Langenbrunner scored in the shootout for the Devils, who had not won since a 4-2 victory at Colorado on March 15.
|Martin Brodeur has lost five of his last six games to the Islanders. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)|
"You have to look at the real positives here," coach Brent Sutter said. "There were a lot of them. We went into a shootout and were able to score on all three of them. That doesn't happen very often."
Johnny Oduya had his first career two-goal game and second multipoint effort for New Jersey, which gave up the tying goal with 55.2 seconds left in regulation.
"That definitely hurt," said Langenbrunner, who also scored a second-period goal. "There was a lot disappointment on the bench. You could see we were a little deflated. For us to come back was huge. We couldn't afford to drop another one."
The Devils have yielded a tying or go-ahead goal in the final five minutes of the third period in four of their last six games. Islanders rookie Kyle Okposo broke a 1-all tie with 2:35 remaining in New Jersey's 3-1 home loss March 21 - the second defeat in the Devils' skid.
Okposo beat Martin Brodeur for his first NHL goal. Brodeur is 39-22-2 with four ties and a 2.17 goals-against average in 69 games against the Islanders (34-37-8), but has lost five of his last six starts against them.
"Scoring a game-winning goal against one of the best goalies in history, that's not bad at all," Okposo said. "I don't know what could be better."
The Islanders have won seven of their last eight meetings with the Devils, including three straight home victories. However, New York has dropped nine of 11 overall and has been eliminated from the postseason race.
Wade Dubielewicz made a career-best 51 saves in Saturday's 4-3 shootout loss to Philadelphia. Dubielewicz, 3-0-0 with a 1.32 GAA in five career games against the Devils, has become New York's primary goalie since Rick DiPietro underwent season-ending hip surgery earlier this month.
"I don't think a lot of their shots were quality," said Dubielewicz, who fell to 6-1 in games that lasted past regulation. "We did a good job of keeping them on the perimeter. They threw everything but the kitchen sink at us. ... They were trying to generate offense from everywhere."
|Apr 01 '08||NJD 2 at NYI 1 - OT||Z. Parise|
|Mar 21 '08||NYI 3 at NJD 1||K. Okposo|
|Feb 23 '08||NYI 2 at NJD 4||Z. Parise|
|Jan 16 '08||NYI 3 at NJD 1||M. Sillinger|
|Dec 29 '07||NJD 2 at NYI 5||A. Sutton|
|Nov 16 '07||NYI 1 at NJD 0||J. Vasicek|
|Nov 10 '07||NJD 1 at NYI 2||M. Satan|
|Oct 20 '07||NJD 3 at NYI 4 - OT||B. Guerin|