NEWARK , N.J. -- Patrik Elias is finally starting to look like himself.
Elias, who's working his way back after offseason groin surgery, scored the go-ahead goal with 1:26 left in the second period as the New Jersey Devils beat the Ottawa Senators 3-1 on Wednesday night.
Elias scored his first goal of the season on a perfectly-timed tip of Andy Greene's shot and goalie Martin Brodeur made 24 saves as New Jersey ended a three-game losing streak.
Jamie Langenbrunner made the play possible when he battled for the puck deep in the left-wing corner before feeding Greene at the right point. Elias got a piece of Greene's shot and deflected it past Brian Elliott to break a 1-1 tie.
"I'm feeling comfortable and starting to make the plays," said Elias, who missed the Devils' first 13 games and 14 overall while recovering from the surgery. "I'm getting chances and shots and that's a positive sign. On the other hand, I still don't feel 100 percent which is probably a good thing. But I keep making progress slowly and as long as I'm OK to play the next game, then that's all I could ask for."
The goal was the first for Elias in a regular-season game since he connected in a 2-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes last March 28. The Devils' all-time leading scorer now has 6 points in his last four games.
"We had a pretty good cycle going, and (Langenbrunner) made a good pass to Greener and the space opened up," Elias said. "I came from behind the net and snuck in and Greener saw me coming in. He threw in a quick wrister and I got a good tip on it."
Langenbrunner then closed out the scoring with 23.7 seconds left when he hit the empty net off a head-man pass from Zach Parise. The Devils extended their home-winning streak to five straight.
"I haven't seen Jamie skate that fast in 14 years (on his empty-net goal) so I had to give it to him," Parise said with a smile. "He was screaming pretty loud too."
Langenbrunner was glad to see Elias got his first goal.
"He's a huge player for us and you could see he was pressing a little bit to get the goal but he's played well in the last few games and you could tell he's getting more and more comfortable," Langenbrunner said. "I think getting a goal will loosen the grip on that stick."
The Devils captain also credited Niclas Bergfors on the Elias goal -- despite the fact the rookie wasn't even on the ice.
"Bergie made a good early change and we kind of caught them tired," Langenbrunner said. "Zach was in on the forecheck so I knew he'd be changing so I dove in to get the puck and then (Brian Rolston) jumped in and we were able to get the cycle going and held the puck long enough to allow Greeny to get open."
The Senators had some great scoring chances in the third period, but Brodeur, the game's first star, was there each time -- denying all 12 shots he faced in the final 20 minutes. His best work came when he made three stops in succession with just over nine minutes remaining -- one off the stick Chris Kelly, followed by two from the slot by Jarkko Ruutu.
"They had a few good chances, some high tips, but I was seeing everything coming before it happened and made some good saves," Brodeur said. "Besides that one chance where they had two shots at me (by Ruutu), most of time, I just had to make that one save and then the puck was cleared."
The Senators pulled into a 1-1 tie 12:34 into the first period when Milan Michalek notched his team-leading 11th of the season off a deflection of a blast from the left point by forward Jesse Winchester.
"We didn't have any forecheck at all over the first two periods and in the third when we began to pressure, Marty was there for them," Michalek said. "We wanted to get more pressure and had some chances, but couldn't put them in on him."
Elliott, who might see more playing time between the pipes now that Pascal Leclaire is sidelined a month with a broken cheekbone, played admirably in defeat with 18 saves.
Bergfors, who had been held pointless in his previous three games, capitalized on a break to open the scoring 7:58 into the game. Greene's dump-in from center ice hit the end glass, took a funny hop and caromed right out to him in the slot, where he easily beat Elliott for his sixth of the season.
Elliott never expected the puck to land right in front of him.
"It just seemed to work out for them, having it bounce off the glass like that and they have three guys in front," he said. "It was a case of bad luck. I don't know if that was planned. It's something we'll learn from when we come back here."
Both teams were short some key personnel. The Devils were without forwards Jay Pandolfo (dislocated right shoulder), Rob Niedermayer (upper body) and Dainius Zubrus (fractured right kneecap) and defensemen Paul Martin (broken arm) and Johnny Oduya (lower body).
The Senators were without forwards Mike Fisher (upper body) and Alex Kovalev (personal) and defenseman Anton Volchenkov (right elbow). Kovalev, who missed three games while attending his mother-in-law's funeral in Russia, should be ready to go when the Columbus Blue Jackets visit Scotiabank Place on Thursday.
"We got the first goal on a big break but (Ottawa's) going through the injuries we're going through right now," Langenbrunner said. "We had to play a smart game and kind of wear them down and I think we did a pretty good job of that. We played smart."
Volchenkov could return to the blue line on Saturday when the club travels to Boston to face the Bruins in the first of a five-game road swing that concludes in Anaheim on Dec. 6.
Senators rookie Ryan Keller was making his NHL debut in the absence of Fisher. Keller, who had 22 points and an AHL -leading 13 goals in 20 games with the Binghamton Senators before his call-up, finished with two shots in 7:39 of ice time.
Contact Mike Morreale at firstname.lastname@example.org