Devils host Ottawa to close out regular season
SENATORS (41-30-10) at DEVILS (47-28-6)
MSG PLUS (HD) RADIO:
Bloomberg 1130 AM
Ottawa 5-5-0; New Jersey 6-3-1
This is the fourth and final meeting of the season. The Devils have won twice, including a 1-0 victory in the last meeting in Ottawa on March 20 when Johan Hedberg
made 27 saves. Ilya Kovalchuk
scored the only goal 17:20 into the second period.
Both teams were on the outside looking in on the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season but have turned things around behind new coaches in 2011-12. The Devils, riding a five-game winning streak, are locked in at sixth in the Eastern Conference. The seventh-seeded Senators, winner of four of their past six games, are just two points ahead of the Washington Capitals. The Capitals close out their regular-season against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
The Senators dropped a 3-1 decision to the Boston Bruins on Thursday in what could be a first-round playoff preview. Jason Spezza scored his team-leading 34th goal of the season for the Senators, who have an impressive 21-13-6 record on the road this campaign. Ottawa needs one point against New Jersey or a Washington loss later Saturday to wrap up the seventh seed in the East and a first-round date with the Bruins.
"We're proud of what we've accomplished, making the playoffs, but we feel there is a lot of work left to do," Spezza said. "We're not just happy to get into the playoffs."
The Devils appear to be clicking on all cylinders heading into the playoffs, winning their fifth straight on Thursday -- a 2-1 triumph over the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. During their winning streak, New Jersey has allowed just six goals and scored 18. Alexei Ponikarovsky
scored in the first period and Petr Sykora
scored the game-winner 11:20 into the third. Goalie Martin Brodeur
earned his 30th win of the season on 23 saves to earn his 14th 30-win season.
Devils center Patrik Elias
has a four-game points streak, during which he's connected for 1 goal and 6 assists. … Spezza has 5 goals and 9 points during a six-game points streak.
For the Devils, forward Jacob Josefson
(fractured left wrist) and defenseman Henrik Tallinder
(blood clot) are out. … The Senators have no new injuries.
Senators forward Milan Michalek leads Ottawa with 22 goals on the road and defenseman Erik Karlsson leads the team with 30 assists away from Scotiabank Place. … The Devils' Sykora has scored 20 goals this season, the 11th time he has reached that milestone.
"I learned a long time ago it's real dangerous to pick your opponent," Devils coach Pete DeBoer said after Thursday's win. "The reality is the top six teams in this League, however it shakes out when the playoffs start, are all very good and very dangerous. I think anybody can knock anybody off. We'll see where those cards fall. Whoever we get, we know it's going to be a great test."