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Martin Brodeur’s late-season run to the Vezina Trophy has carried the New Jersey Devils to first place in the Eastern Conference.
Brodeur made 26 saves for his third straight shutout as New Jersey moved into first place with a 3-0 victory over Tampa Bay on Friday night.
“I just want to give my team a chance to finish first and play as well as I can heading into the playoffs,” Brodeur said.
Bobby Holik, John MacLean and Doug Gilmour scored for the Devils, who won their fourth straight and moved a point ahead of idle Philadelphia. Both teams have five games left in the regular season, the last on April 13 at Philadelphia, where the home-ice advantage for at least the first three rounds of the playoffs might be at stake.
The loss stretched reeling Tampa Bay’s winless streak to four games (0-2-2) and left it 2-7-2 in its past 11. The Lightning are in 12th place in the conference, four points out of a playoff berth with five games left.
The shutout was the league-leading ninth of the season for Brodeur, extending his shutout streak to 183 minutes, 24 seconds, and lowering his league-leading goals-against average to 1.89.
Buffalo’s Dominik Hasek is the only goalie in the past 22 years to lead the NHL with a GAA under 2.00. He had a 1.95 mark in 1993-94.
The Anaheim Mighty Ducks, who came into the league as an expansion team four years ago, clinched their first playoff berth with a 3-2 victory over the Dallas Stars.
The Ducks, led by young stars Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya, ran their record to 34-33-13 for 81 points and also ended the Stars’ seven-game victory streak and 11-game unbeaten string.
Selanne had a goal, his 49th, and assisted on Anaheim’s other two scores, including feeding Kariya for the go-ahead goal with 9 seconds remaining in the second period.
Miroslav Satan scored his first career hat trick and Buffalo ended its longest winless streak in more than four years by defeating the New York Rangers 5-1.
The Sabres, one point from clinching first place in the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference, also broke out of a prolonged scoring slump. They had scored just eight goals in the past six games, five of which were losses.
Bourque aims to be 20-year man for Bruins
Ray Bourque will play his 19th and 20th seasons with the Boston Bruins under a new deal that adds $1 million each year onto his contract.
The Bruins captain, now finishing his 18th season, will make $3.5 million each of the next two seasons, The Boston Globe reported. Bourque was to receive $2.5 million in the 1997-98 and 1998-99 seasons when his five-year deal expires, The Globe said.
“Hopefully, I’ll get there,” Bourque, 36, said about the next two seasons.
Bourque has said he’d like to end his career in Boston, where it started. His No. 77 is certain to be retired and raised to the FleetCenter rafters, next to the No. 7 he wore before giving it up to honor Phil Esposito.