Originally created 04/09/00

Devils top Panthers in OT

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Jason Arnott scored his second goal of the game 47 seconds into overtime and the New Jersey Devils clinched home-ice advantage for at least one playoff round by beating Florida 2-1 Saturday.

The win, coupled with Philadelphia's 3-0 victory over Boston, left the Devils and Flyers tied for first place in both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference.

Since New Jersey has finished the regular season, the Flyers can claim the top seed in the conference and the division title by either beating, tying or playing a regulation tie with the New York Rangers today in their season finale. If Philadelphia loses, the Devils would win the division based on more wins.

However, Washington then would have a shot at winning the conference title by beating Buffalo in its regular-season finale. A win would give the Capitals 103 points, but they would beat out New Jersey, having won the season series.

The loss means Florida will be the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. The Panthers will face either Philadelphia or New Jersey in the first round of the playoffs.

The Panthers' loss, only their second in nine games (6-2-1) also gave the Southeast Division title to Washington.

Arnott's game-winner came just seconds after the Panthers finished killing off a penalty that carried over from the third period. Defenseman Scott Stevens found Arnott on the right wing as the Panthers were making a line change and the big center ripped a shot past Mike Vernon from the right circle.


In Atlanta, Gary Roberts had two goals and an assist as Carolina kept its playoff hopes alive by beating the Thrashers in their home finale.

Carolina must win at home against Atlanta today and hope Montreal and Buffalo each lose their final game. Montreal played Ottawa late Saturday night, and Buffalo finishes the regular season today at Washington.

The expansion Thrashers, last in the NHL with 39 points, were 1-17-2 in their final 20 home games.


In Arlington, Texas, David Wells pitched a nine-hitter for the first complete-game shutout in the majors this year as Toronto beat the Rangers to end Kenny Rogers' 19-game home winning streak.


In Montreal, Patrick Lalime made 23 saves as Ottawa beat the Canadiens, ending Montreal's playoff hopes one day before the regular season ends.

Montreal, which missed the playoffs last season, had not been out of the postseason in consecutive years since failing in three straight from 1920-22.


In Philadelphia, Brian Boucher made 24 saves for his fourth shutout and fellow rookie Mark Eaton scored the only goal the Flyers would need in beating Boston.

The victory helped Philadelphia maintain a share of first place in the Atlantic Division. The Flyers are tied with New Jersey with 103 points.

Mark Recchi and John LeClair also scored for Philadelphia, which can clinch the Eastern Conference title by gaining one point in today's season finale against the Rangers in New York.

Boston had the potential tying goal disallowed at 7:16 of the third when officials ruled that Joe Thornton's shot that bounced off teammate Eric Nickulas and Boucher never crossed the goal line.


In Toronto, Mats Sundin had a goal and assist as the Maple Leafs surpassed the 100-point mark for the first time in franchise history by beating Tampa Bay.

Nik Antropov, Steve Thomas and Darcy Tucker also scored for the Leafs, and Curtis Joseph stopped 33 shots for his 36th victory of the season.


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