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Devils alone atop the East

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 4, 2001

WASHINGTON -- Patrik Elias had his second hat trick in 10 games Tuesday night as the New Jersey Devils beat the Capitals 6-4 in a battle of division champions.

Elias scored his 36th, 37th and 38th goals, including two in a row to break a 3-3 tie, as the Devils won for the 17th time in 19 games to solidify their bid for the No. 1 playoff seed in the Eastern Conference.

The game seemed to have everything: Each team had a player deflect the puck into his own net, the Capitals rallied from a 2-0 deficit and had a rare double-delayed penalty that resulted in a 5-on-3 goal, the Devils scored twice in the final minute of the second period to retake the lead, and New Jersey's Martin Brodeur had an outstanding night despite allowing four goals.

The Capitals took the lead after the Devils committed a penalty during a delayed-penalty call, simultaneously sending two men to the box for two minutes. Washington converted the 5-on-3 when Andrei Nikolishin was left alone by the crease to deposit Adam Oates' centering pass.

THRASHERS 5, SENATORS 2: Patrik Stefan's goal with 2:16 to play broke a 2-2 tie for host Atlanta, hurting Ottawa's chances for the top seed in the East. Stefan scored into an empty net with 51 seconds to play and Shean Donovan scored on a breakaway with 15 seconds left.

Atlanta goaltender Milan Hnilicka, benched in February during a slump, has won three of his last four starts. He stopped 31 of 33 shots.

PANTHERS 2, FLYERS 1: Pavel Bure scored his team-record 59th goal and Len Barrie added the winner midway through the third period for visiting Florida, which kept Philadelphia one point behind Buffalo for fourth place and home-ice advantage in the first round of the East playoffs.

BLUE JACKETS 2, RED WINGS 1: Ron Tugnutt tied the record for wins by an expansion goalie, and Mike Maneluk scored the winner with 7:26 left for host Columbus. Tugnutt (21-24-5) tied the record set by Minnesota's Cesare Maniago in 1967-68 and Florida's John Vanbiesbrouck in 1993-94.

BLUE JACKETS: Ray Whitney, out with a back strain since arriving in a trade with Florida, was activated. He hasn't played since early February.

PREDATORS: Defenseman Pavel Skrbek was sent to minor-league affiliate Milwaukee.

THRASHERS: Atlanta signed left wing Dany Heatley, the second pick in the June draft, to a three-year contract worth about $3-million, GM Don Waddell said. ... Defenseman Petr Buzek was activated from injured reserve for the final two games.

Late Monday

AVALANCHE 5, OILERS 3: Joe Sakic scored three goals, including the winner late in the second period, as host Colorado clinched the Presidents Trophy for best regular-season record and home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs. The Avalanche also won the Presidents Trophy in 1996-97.

KINGS 3, CANUCKS 1: Host Los Angeles tied Vancouver for seventh place in the Western Conference after erasing the 12-point lead the Canucks had on the Kings a month ago. The teams meet again Thursday in Vancouver.

SHARKS 4, WILD 2: Teemu Selanne scored twice, including the go-ahead goal early in the third period, for host San Jose, which moved into a tie with Edmonton for fifth in the West.

STARS 4, FLAMES 4: Benoit Gratton's rebound goal with 3:24 left in regulation tied it for visiting Calgary.

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