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Devils close out road schedule vs. Senators

by Mike G. Morreale

DEVILS (34-29-16) at SENATORS (34-31-14)


Last 10: New Jersey 5-2-3; Ottawa 6-3-1

Season series: This is the third and final game between the Ottawa Senators and New Jersey Devils. Each team has won on home ice; the Devils 5-2 on Dec. 18 and the Senators 5-2 on Oct. 17.

Big story: The Devils were eliminated from qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Wednesday night as the the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Detroit Red Wings locked up the final two spots in the Eastern Conference. New Jersey will miss the playoffs for a second straight season.

There was some good news for the Devils on Wednesday during practice when forward Patrik Elias skated for the first time since sustaining a head injury in the first period of a victory against the Washington Capitals on Friday. Elias, who was on a line with Damien Brunner and Mike Sislo, was the only injured Devil to return to practice; forwards Adam Henrique (groin), Ryane Clowe (head) and Jacob Josefson (left ankle/foot) and defenseman Bryce Salvador (groin) were absent.

Team Scope:

Devils: The Devils are 10-7-3 in 20 games since returning from the Olympic break, including a 1-0 loss against the Calgary Flames on Monday at Prudential Center. It marked the team's 10th shutout loss of the season. Cory Schneider made 21 saves in his fourth straight start but dropped to 16-15-11 for the season. Schneider is third in the NHL with a 2.00 goals-against average.

Devils coach Peter DeBoer was reportedly unhappy with how his team conducted practice on Wednesday prior to leaving for Ottawa.

"I wasn't happy with the execution on the drill we were doing," DeBoer told The (Bergen) Record. "It was a scoring drill and considering we didn't score last game, I thought our attention to detail should have been better.

"I just reminded the guys that we're still alive here and until they tell us we can't make it we've got to practice and play like we can."

Senators: Jason Spezza scored twice in a 4-1 victory against the New York Islanders on Tuesday, but Ottawa was officially eliminated from playoff contention when the Blue Jackets defeated the Phoenix Coyotes in overtime. Despite the disappointment, the win was the 100th for Senators coach Paul MacLean.

"It's a tremendous honor," MacLean said of his milestone win. "I think [it's a] credit to the players and my coaching staff. But there's still a long way to go."

Who's hot: Schneider has allowed two or fewer goals in the Devils' past six games and is 3-1-2 with a 1.19 GAA and .949 save percentage over that stretch. … Senators captain Spezza has three goals and six points in the past five games.

Injury report: Senators defenseman Jared Cowen (lower body) and forwards Colin Greening (lower body) and Bobby Ryan (sports hernia) are out. … Henrique (groin), Josefson (left foot/ankle) and Clowe (head) and defenseman Salvador (groin) are questionable for the Devils. Elias (head) is day-to-day.

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