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Devils-Senators Preview @NHLdotcom

GAME: New Jersey Devils (35-27-9) at Ottawa Senators (48-16-6).

TIME: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

Martin Brodeur hopes to avoid the first five-game losing streak of his career as the New Jersey Devils struggle to hang onto a playoff spot.

The slumping Brodeur and the Devils try to get back on track when they visit the Eastern Conference-leading Ottawa Senators in a possible first-round playoff preview.

The Devils lost for the fourth time in five games on Sunday, 4-3 to the Toronto Maple Leafs. New Jersey fell into a tie with Montreal for seventh place in the East, three points ahead of the ninth-place Atlanta Thrashers.

"It seemed from the start we were all looking around, waiting for something to happen instead of initiating, which is what we'd done well previously," Devils' center Erik Rasmussen said. "It took us too long to get out of it. We all know what's at stake. There is no excuse for coming out the way we did."

Brodeur, who is expected to start against the Senators, has lost four consecutive starts for the first time since Jan. 7-15, 2002. A 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 16 is the only win in his last seven starts.

The two-time Vezina Trophy winner has a 4.03 goals-against average and .857 save percentage during his losing streak. His 2.68 GAA this season is his highest since posting a 3.35 mark in four games during his debut season of 1991-92.

The Devils' only win in their last five games, 4-2 over Boston on Friday, came with backup Scott Clemmensen in goal.

The Senators have already clinched their ninth consecutive playoff appearance, and lead the Carolina Hurricanes by two points for first place in the Eastern Conference.

A win would increase Ottawa's home winning streak to a season-high six. The club had an overall four-game winning streak halted in a 6-3 loss at Philadelphia on Sunday.

The Senators have won five home games in a row on two other occasions this season, from Nov. 17-Dec. 2 and from Dec. 17-Jan. 10. The franchise record is eight consecutive home wins, set from Nov. 14-Dec. 14, 2002.

Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza have combined for 15 goals and 47 points in 14 games this month, helping the Senators to an 11-2-1 March record.

Defenseman Zdeno Chara may return after missing two games with a deep bone bruise to his hand, suffered during a fight in last Wednesday's win over Pittsburgh.

STANDINGS: Devils - 79 points, 3rd place, 11 PB, Atlantic Division. Senators - 102 points, 1st place, Northeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Devils - Brian Gionta, 39 goals and 69 points; Scott Gomez, 40 assists; Jason Wiemer, 88 PIM. Senators - Heatley, 40 goals; Spezza, 56 assists; Alfredsson, 89 points; Chris Neil, 168 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Devils - Power play: 17.3 percent (67 for 388), 20th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.6 percent (249 for 305), 19th. Senators - Power play: 20.7 percent (87 for 420), 3rd. Penalty killing: 86.4 percent (363 for 420), 2nd.

GOALTENDERS: Devils - Brodeur (32-23-7, 5 SO, 2.68 GAA); Clemmensen (3-4-2, 0, 3.35). Senators - Ray Emery (20-6-2, 3, 2.67); Mike Morrison (10-4-2, 0, 2.80).

SEASON SERIES: Senators, 2-1.

LAST MEETING: March. 19; Senators, 4-0. At East Rutherford, N.J., Heatley, Chara, Patrick Eaves and Antoine Vermette scored for the Senators. Emery made 22 saves for his third shutout of the season.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Devils - 13-16-6 on the road; Senators - 26-6-1 at home.

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