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Devils continue their improbable playoff push, beat Islanders in shootout

Mar 6, 2011, 6:17 PM EDT

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Ilya Kovalchuk AP

The New Jersey Devils keep winning over and over again, as the likelihood of a playoff run is going from “ridiculous” to “deeply frightening to the East’s top seeds.” Every once in a while a team slides into the seventh or eighth seed even though they have top seed talent. If Jacques Lemaire can somehow get them to that level, this would be a great example of such a situation.

New Jersey faced a stern test from their increasingly scrappy Atlantic Division underlings in Long Island, as the Devils eked out a 3-2 shootout win against the New York Islanders. As usual, Ilya Kovalchuk carried the torch, scoring a goal and an assist during regulation and then finding the twine in a matter-of-fact way in the shootout.

New Jersey 3, NY Islanders 2 (SO)

Brian Rolston eventually tallied the shootout winner after Al Montoya and Martin Brodeur made big saves in the skills competition. Montoya was solid in a losing effort this afternoon (stopping 27 out of 29 pucks), but Brodeur earned his 17th win of the season during light 20-save game.

The Devils find themselves only seven points behind the eighth Carolina Hurricanes with one game in hand, although they obviously must also contend with other competitive bubble teams (especially the Buffalo Sabres). Even if the team falls a bit short, it will be tough to ignore Lemaire for at least some Jack Adams consideration. Their most recent run is especially impressive, with a 14-1-1 mark in their last 16 games.

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