EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) _ Eric Rasmussen scored two goals to help the New
Jersey Devils turn the battle for the Atlantic Division title into a sprint to
Scott Gomez also had a pair of goals and Martin Brodeur got his 75th shutout
as the Devils tied Philadelphia for the lead in the Atlantic Division. The 5-0
victory Tuesday night over the New York Rangers gave Pat Burns his 500th win as
The Devils have 98 points with two games to go. The idle Flyers also have 98
points, but have three games remaining.
``We and the Flyers have paralleled our seasons back and forth, getting hot
and getting cold,'' Rasmussen said. ``It's out of our control with what they
do. We've got two games left and our goal is to win them both.''
At stake for the Devils and Flyers: home ice for the opening round of the
Stanley Cup playoffs.
``These games will really mean something,'' Gomez said. ``This can determine
if you start at home or start on the road. As much as we love being on the
road, in any of those Game 7s, you'd rather be in your own barn.''
Burns became the ninth coach to reach 500 wins. He's 500-366-151. The 500
wins ties him with Hall of Famer Toe Blake.
Igor Larionov also scored and Brodeur made 24 saves to hold off the Rangers.
The Devils broke the scoreless game open with three second-period goals.
Gomez got New Jersey rolling at 6:40 with a drive from the top of the left
circle that beat Stephen Valiquette between the pads.
Rasmussen ended a 16-game goal drought with a drive of Valiquette's glove at
11:33. Gomez took a return feed from Scott Niedermayer and whipped it past
Valiquette from the right faceoff dot with 2:23 left.
In the third period, Larionov got his first goal in more than a year. He
last scored on March 25, 2003 as a member of the Detroit Red Wings.
Rasmussen added his second goal of the game at 10:14.
The game was a late-season showcase for Valiquette and the results were not
``I think Steve struggled although our penalty kill did not give him a lot
of help,'' Rangers coach Tom Renney said. ``That's what it's all about _ to see
what we have and give these guys a chance.''
At the other end, Brodeur had an easy third period to preserve the shutout,
with the Rangers managing only seven shots. New York's best scoring chance came
midway through the second period, when Brodeur made an arm save on Jaromir
Jagr's shot from the slot.