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Clarkson Scores Twice To Lead Devils Past Blue Jackets, 3-0

The New Jersey Devils (34-34-4) couldn't buy a goal in their previous two losses.

Who thought David Clarkson would solve the problem.

Clarkson's two goals led the Devils to a 3-0 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets (33-29-10), keeping their slim playoff hopes alive.

With the win, the Devils moved within seven points of the Buffalo Sabres for the eighth and final playoff spot with 10 games left to play.

"I think the turnaround is pretty exceptional, there's no doubt about that," Brodeur said of the turnaround. "Especially in the situation we were in. We've gotten on some pretty good rolls throughout my career. I think this situation, to be able to turn it around and do what we did, has been a lot more fun."

Clarkson continued to believe the playoffs are a real possibility for the Devils.

"I'm not," he told Tom Gulitti of The Bergen Record. "I don't think I'll ever be. I think that's they type of person I am. Am I thinking about it every day? No, but I believe. I believe it's possible. I believe we have the guys in here to do it, but we have to take it game by game and that's it."

The Devils found their offense after scoring only one goal in two straight losses. Clarkson broke through in the first period, giving New Jersey a 1-0 lead 9:24 into the game. Jacob Josefson fired a backhanded shot on net that Steve Mason stopped. A rebound fell into the crease, where Clarkson deposited it into the net for his 11th goal of the season.

Clarkson's second goal, at 8:50 of the second period, put the Devils ahead 2-0. The Devils' right-winger fired a shot from the right circle that Mason saved. The rebound came loose near the crease, and Clarkson fired the puck into the open net for his 12th goal of the season.

Nick Palmieri pushed the lead to 3-0 at 3:22 of the third period. The rookie started the scoring play on the forecheck, stripping Kris Russell of the puck. He released a quick shot that beat Mason's glove for Palmieri's seventh goal of the season.

The one-sided affair continued throughout the afternoon, with Columbus failing to put pressure on New Jersey's defense. They didn't register their first official shot until the final minute of the first period, and could never sustain pressure in the Devils' zone.

Martin Brodeur stopped just 13 shots for his 115th career shutout.

The Devils' realize the mountain still blocking their chance of a 14th straight playoff appearance. But the team can only worry about their own play, and wins like tonight help their cause.

"It's not easy," Brodeur told Gulitti. "When you get to this stage you know that the opportunity for us to make the playoffs is getting harder and harder. When you see other teams like the Rangers and the Sabres winning, it's disappointing. You wish you could have a little help to make it more interesting, but at the end of the day we have to do our own thing. If we win our next two games (in Boston Tuesday and in Pittsburgh Friday), now we're playing Buffalo. That's a time to maybe gain some ground. And after that we play the Rangers (on April 9).

"So, we've just got to win our games. That's it. We're in our situation now where we can't afford to lose games."