TRAVIS ZAJAC scored at 5:39 of overtime and the New Jersey Devils avoided elimination and sent yet another Eastern Conference first-round series to a seventh game with a 3-2 victory over the visiting Florida Panthers on Tuesday night.

Steve Bernier and Ilya Kovalchuk also scored and Martin Brodeur made 14 saves for New Jersey, which squandered a two-goal lead and had fans dreading another first-round playoff exit until Zajac scored from the right circle.

The shot beat Scott Clemmensen to the lower corner and set off a mob scene on the ice.

Clemmensen was outstanding, stopping 39 shots in an emergency start for the injured Jose Theodore. Kris Versteeg and Sean Bergenheim tallied for Florida, which was looking for its first series win since 1996.

Game 7 will be played in Sunrise, Fla., on Thursday night.

Two other series in the conference are also headed to Game 7s. Washington will be at second-seeded Boston on Wednesday and Ottawa will be at the top-seeded Rangers on Thursday.

Noteworthy * 

Valeri Vasilyev, a standout Soviet defenseman who won two Olympic gold medals, has died at 62.

His death was announced by his longtime club, Dinamo Moscow. The statement said he died of a serious illness but did not elaborate.

Vasilyev played on the Soviet teams that won Olympic gold medals in 1972 and 1976, lost to the United States in 1980, and played against NHL teams.