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Brodeur helps Devils hold off Senators

by Brian Hunter

Arron Asham scored two goals — his first scores since December 16 — in the Devils' 3-2 win over the Senators.
Watch highlights from the Devils' win
Martin Brodeur shows no signs of slowing down, and as a result the New Jersey Devils are hot closing in on the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

Brodeur made 37 saves in his 18th straight start and Arron Asham scored twice as the Devils held off the Ottawa Senators 3-2 Saturday night at Scotiabank Place.

The Devils were 3-6-1 and in the Atlantic Division basement after losing to the Senators in their home opener on Oct. 27. But after beating Ottawa for the second time in four days, they sit alone atop the division and are within two points of the Eastern Conference-leading Senators.

“We’ve been playing some good hockey,” Devils coach Brent Sutter said. “We’ve been finding ways to win games. We’re accumulating points, and that’s what you need to do.”

Brodeur was kept busy during the final 40 minutes. He made 18 saves in the second period and 12 more in the third to preserve his 31st victory of the season and the 525th of his NHL career.

“It was a hard-played game, especially in front of the net,” Brodeur said. “A lot of traffic, a lot of bumping. I had to deal with a lot of rebounds. But it worked out well. It’s definitely nice to come out of here with a big win.”

Zach Parise’s power-play goal at 7:44 of the second period gave the Devils a 3-0 lead against a Senators team that had been largely lifeless to that point. But Ottawa found its skating legs and cut the margin to 3-1 when Jason Spezza scored at 16:37 after Brodeur made a rare miscue while playing the puck.

Chris Kelly’s goal with 7:07 left in the third period set up a frantic finish in which Brodeur was forced to make several highlight-reel saves.

“He came up huge,” Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner said. “Tough play on that first goal there, and in true Marty fashion battled back and saved us there at the end. Some great saves there, especially in the last few minutes.”

Playing from behind caught up to the Senators, who lost their third in a row and saw their lead in the Northeast Division shrink to two points over the Montreal Canadiens, who won at home against Philadelphia.

"We didn't get off to a good start at all and to give them a lead makes it tough," Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said. "We came back hard in the last two periods and we had our chances, but three goals behind is tough these days."

Asham, who came up empty in the 10th and final round of a 4-3 shootout loss to the Atlanta Thrashers on Friday, got the Devils on the board 9:05 into game with his first goal since Dec. 16. Asham’s original shot was stopped by Senators goalie Ray Emery, but Asham got his own rebound and tried to pass to John Madden. Instead, the puck deflected off Alfredsson’s stick and snuck past Emery to put the Devils ahead.

Asham made it 2-0 at 3:10 of the second period when he raced down right wing and ripped a 40-foot slap shot over Emery’s shoulder for his second goal of the night and sixth of the season.

"Ash has responded," Sutter said. "If he's finishing and getting involved it gives him opportunities to get the puck to shoot. He's got a great shot and he hasn't shot the puck enough. Sometimes he gets cute and tries to make the perfect play and gets off track. He just needs to go hard up and down his wing."

Parise scored his team-leading 22nd of the season just two seconds after a 5-on-3 advantage expired. Parise had missed an open right side of the net earlier on his shift, but connected on his second chance after being set up by Brian Gionta.

Brodeur helped the Senators get back in it when he made a rare mistake playing the puck outside his crease. Alfredsson took the puck away and passed in front to Spezza, who sent his 24th of the season into the vacated net with 3:23 left in the second.

Kelly’s goal might have given the Devils flashbacks to 24 hours earlier, when Atlanta tied the score with 18.1 seconds left in regulation on Marian Hossa’s goal and went on to win in the shootout. This time, though, the defense tightened and Brodeur made the saves he had to.

“Last night was a tough bounce that found its way across the crease, and tonight we did a good job of keeping it outside and closing it down a little bit,” Langenbrunner said.

Brodeur continued to dispel the notion that, approaching his 36th birthday in May, he might need some rest.

“I feel good out there,” Brodeur said, “and I think it’s important, I think you want to get to the playoffs with momentum. I play so much that it’s hard for me to take a lot of time off sometimes, so definitely I manage myself in practices and the mornings of the games, without skating, the way we’ve been doing all year. I think it really helps me out.”

Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.

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