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Senators attempt to play spoiler against Devils

by Brian Hunter
DEVILS (33-32-4) at SENATORS (25-36-9)


Last 10:
New Jersey 8-2-0; Ottawa 5-5-0

Season series:
Fourth and final meeting of the season between these teams. Ottawa has won two of three, including a 3-2 win on Dec. 10 in the first matchup at Scotiabank Place and 2-1 in the most recent game on March 8, with Erik Condra scoring his second of the night with 2:13 left in the third period.

Big story: For the first time this season, New Jersey will enter a game with a points percentage better than .500 (70 points in 69 games). The Devils are 23-3-2 over their last 28 games and have drawn within six points of an Eastern Conference playoff berth. The Senators have lost their last two following a nice surge, but they've already dealt a damaging blow to the Devils' hopes once this month.

Team Scope:

Devils: This starts a stretch of three games in four nights that will further test New Jersey's mettle and perhaps provide a clearer indication of whether the Devils will still be in contention once the calendar turns to April. Their modern-day record of 16 straight games in which they didn't allow a first-period goal ended Tuesday when the visiting Thrashers scored twice in 65 seconds, but New Jersey rallied for a 4-2 victory with rookie Jacob Josefson picking up the go-ahead goal 4:14 into the third period.

"We're taking it one at a time and we try to win every game," said fellow rookie Mattias Tedenby, who set up Josefson's goal. "That's what we want to do. That's what we're fighting for every day and if we keep having a little luck like this, we have a chance."

Senators: Superior goaltending by Craig Anderson after his acquisition from Colorado played a big part in Ottawa winning seven of 10 recently, but Buffalo and Pittsburgh have put a dent in Anderson's armor over the past two games. He was pulled in a loss to the Sabres after giving up four goals on 17 shots and took the defeat Tuesday, 5-1 against the Penguins. Anderson did face 41 shots in that game, as the young Senators seemed to break down often defensively.

"We didn't support the way we needed to or have been," coach Cory Clouston told the Ottawa Sun. "We didn't give him the opportunity to make the initial save and clear the rebound. We turned the puck over too many times.

"We just fell right into their hands and we didn’t leave Craig with much support."

Who's hot:
Josefson has goals in consecutive games and his new line centering Tedenby and David Clarkson has produced 3 goals and 5 assists in wins over the Islanders and Thrashers. Martin Brodeur is 15-2-1 after a 5-18-1 start. He's allowed two goals or fewer in all eight starts since returning from a knee injury. … Jason Spezza had 3 goals and 2 assists in two games and Erik Karlsson had 3 goals and 2 assists in three games for the Senators before they were blanked on Tuesday.

Injury report: New Jersey forward Zach Parise (knee) remains on injured reserve but is skating on his own, and there's hope he could still return this season. … Ottawa has lost forward Peter Regin (shoulder) for the season, and it's unknown when captain Daniel Alfredsson (back), forward Milan Michalek (foot) and defenseman Matt Carkner (knee) might be back.

Stat pack: While their first-period scoreless streak ended, the Devils extended their run of not allowing more than two goals to an opponent to 17 in a row. … Anderson has wins over New Jersey for both the Senators and Avalanche this season, stopping 72 of 75 shots for a .960 save percentage.

Puck drop: Travis Zajac is set to pass three-time Stanley Cup-winning defenseman Ken Daneyko as New Jersey's all-time leader for consecutive games played when he takes the ice for his 389th straight regular-season contest Thursday.

"I got to talk to him [after tying the record Tuesday] and it's pretty humbling to see the type of player he was in this League and how big of a competitor that he was," Zajac said in Record reporter Tom Gulitti's Fire & Ice blog. "That's why he had so much success and won Cups here. It's something I want to keep part of my game."

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