|NJD||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||2|
|OTT||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||1|
GAME: New Jersey Devils (13-5-6-0) at Ottawa Senators (12-8-2-3).TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EST.
Following a slow start, the Ottawa Senators are beginning to look like an elite team.
They'll get another chance to prove it when they face the defending champion New Jersey Devils in the second meeting in four weeks between last season's Eastern Conference finalists.
Seeing the Senators hover around .500 during much of November was one of the league's biggest surprises, but a return to strong defensive play during a three-game win streak appears to have them back on track.
Martin Prusek made 29 saves for his third straight win and Jason Spezza scored twice, leading Ottawa to a 4-1 victory at Tampa Bay on Thursday.
Bryan Smolinski and rookie Antoine Vermette also had goals for the Senators, who have outscored opponents 12-2 during the three-game streak.
Prusek has stopped 90 of 92 shots in three wins while filling in for regular starter Patrick Lalime, who has been sidelined by the flu.
"I think that Martin has stepped up since he has gotten a chance," Ottawa coach Jacques Martin said. "He has made some pretty big saves and he has been consistent, so you have to be pleased with how he has performed."
Captain Daniel Alfredsson assisted on Smolinski's goal, giving him three goals and six assists during a seven-game point streak.
Ottawa was shut out by Martin Brodeur and the Devils 1-0 on Nov. 8 in the first meeting between the teams since last season's conference finals. New Jersey won that series in seven games before beating Anaheim to win the Stanley Cup.
The Devils ended a season-high four-game winless streak in convincing fashion Thursday, limiting Washington to nine shots in a 3-0 victory.
Brodeur didn't need to do much in recording his NHL-leading fifth shutout of the season and rookie defenseman Paul Martin had a goal and an assist in the first period.
"Defensively, we were awesome," Brodeur said. "That's as good as a team can play. I don't know how hard they competed against us but we don't care. It's about how we play."
New Jersey, which has earned at least a point in 15 of its last 17 games (11-2-4), has allowed a league-low 39 goals despite playing two rookie defensemen -- Martin and David Hale.
"When you're good enough to play in this league, it's basically getting the pace of the game," captain Scott Stevens said. "They're both playing well. They're good kids to be around and work with. You don't see them like that much anymore."
|Feb 03 '04||OTT 1 at NJD 2||J. Friesen|
|Jan 13 '04||OTT 4 at NJD 0||M. Hossa|
|Dec 06 '03||NJD 2 at OTT 1||B. Gionta|
|Nov 08 '03||NJD 1 at OTT 0||S. Stevens|
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