Gomez's controversial shooutout goal lifts Devils

OTTAWA (AP) -- Scott Gomez made Lou Lamoriello's decision easy.

Gomez scored the only shootout goal to give the New Jersey Devils an important 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night.

"Gomez has been scoring lately," Lamoriello said after the Devils won for just the second time in six games and third time in nine to move into a tie for sixth place with Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference. "We could have gone with anyone, but he's had a hot hand."

It proved to be a good call. After Senators goaltender Ray Emery, who made 33 saves in regulation, stopped Patrik Elias, Brian Gionta missed.

Gomez then skated straight at Emery, left the puck in place and moved around it.

"That's his move. He doesn't move the puck. he just lets it go," Gionta said.

The puck slid into Emery's pads, but he glided back into the net. The goal needed to be reviewed before eventually counting.

"I just kept sliding back into the net. You squeeze your knees to try and stop and brace yourself," Emery said. "It's frustrating.

"It was close. I think it got past [the goal line]. I don't think they could see it."

The Senators, who lost for the second game in a row after winning four straight, had no luck at the other end, either.

Antoine Vermette and Dany Heatley, who scored his second goal of the game with 30.5 seconds remaining in regulation and Emery on the bench in favor of an extra attacker, missed. Martin Brodeur stopped Daniel Alfredsson to clinch the win.

Brodeur stopped 36 shots in regulation for New Jersey to earn his 436th career victory.

Despite being the highest-scoring team in the NHL, the Senators lost their sixth straight shootout. Ottawa shooters have gone 16 attempts without scoring.

"It's been a big struggle for us and it's frustrating," Alfredsson said. "Especially at home. You come back like we did and get the crowd into it and then can't win it for them. Maybe we've got to try some different shooters because we're not having success."

Gionta, on a power play, and John Madden, with a short-handed tally, had the Devils' goals.

Gionta reached a career-high 40 goals. His previous best was 21 goals in the 2003-04 season.

"It's nice getting that out of the way, but the two points is more important," he said.

Heatley scored his 41st and 42nd goals of the season to establish a career high. The Senators moved three points ahead of Carolina in the race for first place in the East.

The Senators lost defenseman Chris Phillips at the end of the first period when he twisted his left knee while trying to tie up New Jersey's Zach Parise. He didn't return to the game.

Ottawa is already reeling from injuries to defensemen Zdeno Chara (hand) and Anton Volchenkov (concussion), goaltender Dominik Hasek (groin) and forwards Mike Fisher (ankle) and Martin Havlat (shoulder).

With the Devils short-handed, Madden stripped Alfredsson of the puck in the first period and raced the length of the ice to beat Emery.

Heatley beat Brodeur on a point shot on the power play early in the third, but Gionta restored New Jersey's advantage minutes later.

With time running out, Heatley redirected Brian Pothier's point shot past Brodeur to force overtime and eventually the shootout.

"No one panicked," Gomez said. "Anything can happen in a shootout. To come in this building and come out with two points is
pretty awesome."

Game notes
Alfredsson had an assist to reach 400 for his career. ... Ottawa C Bryan Smolinski needs one more game to reach 900 in the NHL.