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OTTAWA (AP) - The Ottawa Senators still don't know what it's like to win the first two games of a series, though their eighth and most recent attempt to go up 2-0 didn't miss by much.
New Jersey's Jamie Langenbrunner scored on a breakaway 1:55 into the second overtime to give the Devils a 3-2 win over Ottawa on Saturday night, though it was Sergei Brylin's goal during a 5-on-3 with seconds left in the first period that bothered the Senators most.
"Yeah, that was kind of a fishy one," Ottawa center Jason Spezza said Sunday after the Senators' optional practice at Scotiabank Place.
With 2.7 seconds showing on the clock, Brylin faced off against Spezza in the Senators' zone and got control of the puck behind the Ottawa center before putting a shot past Ray Emery into the top right corner of the net.
A video review confirmed that the goal was scored with 0.2 seconds remaining.
"I had enough time to tie him up and go down on my knees and he still found a way to get the shot off in 2.7 seconds," Spezza said. "We don't feel like they started the clock on time but that's the breaks I guess in hockey and you don't see those things happen very often."
Senators coach Bryan Murray said the delay in starting the clock was 0.7 seconds.
"Basically what the referee told me was that there's an allowance for human error and that's what happened on that play, so the referee couldn't do anything about it." Murray said. "The bottom line is that the guy didn't start the clock right away and they scored."
New Jersey's NHL off-ice officials worked the game. The league used to use off-ice officials from neutral teams during the playoffs.
"It probably happens quite often, you just don't have goals scored on them," Murray said when asked if the delay was unusual. "That doesn't mean I have to accept it but that's the way it is."
Lou Lamoriello, New Jersey's president, general manager and head coach, was unaware of the controversy when the Devils arrived here for a meeting later in the day.
"I didn't notice that, nor did I look for that, nor would I think that that was done," said Lamoriello, who didn't know that local officials had worked the game. "If you can come up with any suggestions I'd like to hear it because it's a human hand that's dropping the puck and it's a human hand that's putting the clock on. If there's a better way of doing it I don't have the answer right now."
As is so often the case with the Devils, Martin Brodeur played a big role in salvaging a split.
After allowing four first-period goals in Thursday's 5-4 loss, Brodeur made a number of big saves while turning aside 43 shots Saturday, including 14 in overtime.
"It's kind of obvious that it was huge," Brodeur said Sunday following a team meeting in the visitors' dressing room. "I mean 2-0 or 1-1 going into somebody else's building, it says it all right there."
Spezza said that despite Brodeur's return to form the Senators are confident they have the right approach on offense.
"We've just got to keep doing what we were doing," Spezza said. "We were doing a good job of getting pucks at him and getting in front of him. He made a few good saves, he made a few lucky saves, and that's why he is who he is."
While his team held on Thursday to win its series opener on the road, Murray regretted returning home with a split.
"We knew we had to win a game in their building, we've done that and you can say all of that stuff but we had a chance to win the game last night and I'd much prefer that," Murray said.
Ottawa outplayed the Devils the rest of the way - tying the game with 26.4 seconds left in regulation when Dany Heatley scored with Emery pulled for an extra attacker.
"We had a chance to go up 2-0 but it is hard to win two in the other team's rink," Spezza said.
Left wing Christoph Schubert was the only regular who took advantage of the practice time in the wake of the double overtime loss.
"You're obviously a little more rested after you win them but we'll be fine, I think," Spezza said. "We're coming back here and we're happy to be home. We're looking forward to playing in front of our crowd and however tired we are, I'm sure they'll give us a bit of energy to help us out."