Jeff Friesen scored with 6:13 left in regulation after a defensive breakdown by the Senators to give the Devils a 2-1 victory on Tuesday night, their third victory in four meetings this season over the team they eliminated in last spring's Eastern Conference finals.
Both New Jersey goals came off defensive errors. Friesen found himself wide-open for Jamie Langenbrunner's pass from the right corner after Sergei Brylin worked the puck free from Ottawa defensemen Wade Redden and Karel Rachunek.
Friesen tapped in the hard pass for his 12th of the season.
``We lost the battle in the corner,'' Ottawa coach Jacques Martin said, ``and a guy was wide open in front of the net. This is the kind of team that waits for opportunities, and it's kind of like beating yourself.''
The Senators' first defensive mistake came in the final minute of the second period, when Patrik Elias was left unchecked in the slot and converted Scott Gomez's pass from behind the net to tie the game at 1-1.
``That goal made a big difference, especially with all the chances we had missed at that point of the period,'' Devils coach Pat Burns said. ``To come in and do that gives you that big boost again.''
Martin Brodeur finished with 23 saves for the Devils, who now have 67 points _ one behind first-place Philadelphia in the Atlantic Division. The Devils have two games in hand.
The Senators opened the scoring with less than six minutes left in the second period when Josh Langfeld chased his own dump-in into the left corner and fed Redden at the point. Radek Bonk, standing to the right of Brodeur in the slot, tipped Redden's wrist shot into the net for his 12th of the season.
The Devils got even when Gomez raced down right wing, cut behind the net and found Elias alone in front. Elias deked Ottawa goalie Patrick Lalime to the ice and put the puck over his glove for his 20th of the season.
``They pounce when you make little errors,'' Redden said.
The Devils outshot Ottawa 15-6 in the opening period, but Lalime kept the game scoreless by stopping Elias at the left post after a giveaway by Brian Pothier. The Senators' best chance came midway through the period when Bonk beat Brodeur from the right circle but hit the far post.
Before Bonk's goal, the best scoring chance in the middle period came at 5:45, when Ottawa's Martin Havlat found himself alone in front but had his wrist shot stopped by Brodeur.
|Radek Bonk (12) ASST: Wade Redden (20), Josh Langfeld (2)|
1 - 0 OTT
|Patrik Elias (20) ASST: Scott Gomez (24), Paul Martin (8)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Jeff Friesen (12) ASST: Jamie Langenbrunner (7), Sergei Brylin (14)|
2 - 1 NJD
|Jamie Langenbrunner Roughing against Shaun Van Allen|
|Shaun Van Allen Hooking against Sergei Brylin|
|Shaun Van Allen Roughing|
|Brooks Laich Hooking against Scott Gomez|
|David Hale Cross checking against Bryan Smolinski|