Devils look to bounce back in Ottawa
DEVILS (41-27-5) at SENATORS (37-26-10)
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New Jersey 6-4-0; Ottawa 5-3-2.
Third of four meetings. Each team has won once on home ice, and needed more than 60 minutes to do so. Adam Henrique
had the decisive shootout goal as the Devils rallied from a 3-0 deficit for a 5-4 win on Dec. 8, while the Senators came back from two goals down on Jan. 2 to claim a 3-2 victory on Daniel Alfredsson's goal four minutes into overtime.
While the Senators still have their eyes on the big prize -- the Northeast Division crown -- they're also trying to move up in the Eastern Conference standings in case they can't catch the Bruins. The Devils are only three points ahead of the Senators for sixth place, with each team having nine games left in the regular season.
Smarting after back-to-back losses to Atlantic Division rivals, New Jersey will try to regroup and return to the win column north of the border. The Devils were hoping to rebound from a defeat to the Penguins by beating the first-place Rangers on Monday, but a Madison Square Garden crowd which was riled up early by three fights off the opening faceoff then got a quick Brandon Dubinsky goal and another score by Dan Girardi early in the second. The Devils battled back, twice getting to within a goal on tallies by Patrik Elias
and Petr Sykora
, but fell by a 4-2 final.
"Sometimes, yeah, it's great to see that and emotions are high, but you have to kind of take a deep breath and a step back and play the way you want to play," forward Patrik Elias
said about the start to the game and the Devils falling behind early.
For a period of less than 24 hours, Ottawa did take the Northeast lead last week after an overtime win over Montreal. That was Friday night, but on Saturday afternoon Boston leapfrogged back in front, and the Senators were unable to answer later that night against the desperate Maple Leafs. They entered the third down 1-0 and watched as the Leafs added two more before Colin Greening finally put the Senators on the scoreboard with 1:09 remaining. The loss was the first in regulation for recent acquisition Ben Bishop.
"We got in penalty trouble and that's the difference in the game," Alfredsson said. "We weren't as opportunistic on our chances to give us that lead. We got too many penalties in the end and that didn't give us a chance to come back in the game."
Sykora has goals in consecutive games for the Devils and also added an assist Monday. ... Greening has scored in a goal in three straight for the Senators.
New Jersey forward Travis Zajac
(Achilles) is skating and nearing a return. He remains on injured reserve along with defenseman Henrik Tallinder
(blood clot). ... Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson (lacerated finger) took part in the full practice Monday, but is still on injured reserve and his status won't be re-evaluated until later in the week.
Stat Pack: Zach Parise
and Dainius Zubrus
combined for two of the Devils' NHL-leading 14 shorthanded goals this season in the first meeting between these teams. ... The Senators have a pair of players in the top 10 of the League in scoring -- Jason Spezza (75 points, T-4th) and Erik Karlsson (72, 7th), who is also the leading scorer among defensemen.
Puck Drop: Alfredsson commented on the fact Ottawa felt like a visitor in its home rink against Toronto because of the large contingent of Maple Leaf fans that made their way to Scotiabank Place and cheered their team to victory Saturday.
"New Jersey doesn't have a custom of bringing a lot of their fans here," he said laughing in comments published in the Hamilton Spectator. "It's still a good atmosphere when we play Montreal and Toronto at home even though the crowds are biased. It's a good atmosphere and that's what you want. Instead of having 8,000 just Sens fans I think everybody prefers a full building and everything that comes with it."