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Pre-break play has Devils feeling good about future

by Mike G. Morreale /
SENATORS (17-25-8) at DEVILS (16-30-3)
TV --
Last 10 -- Senators 1-6-3; Devils 6-3-1
Season series -- This is the second of four meetings this season. The Senators scored a 3-2 victory in Ottawa on Dec. 10 as Milan Michalek and Jarkko Ruutu scored 2:16 apart midway through the second period and All-Star defenseman Erik Karlsson had a goal and an assist. Devils All-Star forward Patrik Elias and Dainius Zubrus scored for New Jersey.
Big story -- With 33 games remaining in the regular season, the Devils will look to continue taking positive steps. The club had put together a 6-1-1 run heading into the All-Star break and was playing significantly better under coach Jacques Lemaire. Since taking over for John MacLean on Dec. 23, Lemaire has led the Devils to a 7-8-1 mark. A playoff berth appears to be out of reach at this point -- the team is 22 points out of the last playoff spot -- but the Devils certainly could play a major role as spoiler down the stretch.
Team Scope:
Senators --
One reason for Ottawa's inability to win many games this season (17) is its futile effort when trailing after two periods. The Senators are one of four teams in the League winless in games they trail after 40 minutes (0-16-4). They are, however, 15-3-0 when leading after two periods. Ottawa exits the All-Star break one 13th in the Eastern Conference and with the second-fewest goals (108) in the League -- seven more than New Jersey.
Devils -- Devils forward Patrik Elias, drafted by Team Staal with the No. 31 selection during the inaugural NHL All-Star Game Fantasy Draft on Friday, needed just one shot to score his first career All-Star goal Sunday, but his team dropped an 11-10 decision to Team Lidstrom at RBC Center. Elias, who was making his third All-Star appearance, finished with 2 points and two takeaways in 15:44 of ice time.

Elias leads the Devils with 37 points and 7 power-play goals.
Who's hot -- Devils left wing Brian Rolston, who has survived waivers still is with the team, takes a five-game point-scoring streak into Tuesday's game. He has 3 goals and 4 assists over that span, and has notched 3 goals and 11 points in his last eight games.
Injury report -- The Devils are without Matthew Corrente (shoulder), Matt Taormina (ankle), Zach Parise (knee surgery) and Bryce Salvador (concussion). Defenseman Colin White, who missed the last two games with an upper-body injury, remains questionable. … The Senators could get center Jason Spezza (shoulder) and goalie Pascal Leclaire back against the Devils. Left wing Jarkko Ruutu (lower body) is out.
Stat pack -- Devils goalie Martin Brodeur was 5-0-1 in his last six starts before losing in Detroit just prior to the All-Star break. … Left wing Ilya Kovalchuk has averaged 23:28 of ice time under Lemaire and has 6 goals in 16 games under the new/old coach; he averaged 21:28 of ice time with 8 goals in 33 games under MacLean.
Puck drop -- "The recent winning streak was good and kind of gave us that feeling we can win any game against anyone," Elias told the media at the All-Star Game. "We beat some good teams and we were in it against Detroit, but didn't get extra push to put that game away. But we've been playing better hockey and we know that and it gives you confidence. It makes everyone happy to come to work and practice and it shows in the game."
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