The Ottawa Senators finally figured out how to win at home. The New Jersey Devils are having trouble winning anywhere.
Ottawa snapped a four-game losing streak at Scotiabank Place on Friday by holding off the Devils 3-2. Not even the return of injured goaltender Martin Brodeur could help the struggling Devils, who've dropped four in a row overall and seven consecutive games away from the Prudential Center.
Ottawa finally got production from some players who've been mired in scoring slumps. Erik Karlsson, Milan Michalek and Jarkko Ruutu finally found the back of the net after experiencing lengthy goal droughts.
"It's a big win for us," said goaltender Pascal Leclaire, who made 29 saves. "We'll start from there. We did a lot of good things. Getting some results tonight was good for everybody."
Also encouraging was the play of forward Alex Kovalev, who had expressed his displeasure earlier in the day to reporters about being demoted to the fourth line. Kovalev got 18:18 of ice time and was with the top line during the game's final minutes. He finished with two shots on goal and a plus-1 rating.
"I thought his first couple of shifts were real good," Senators coach Cory Clouston said. "It was something we were looking at doing. I thought he played well."
Brodeur, who faced 29 shots in his first game since Nov. 18, was good -- but not good enough.
Patrik Elias and Dainius Zubrus scored power-play goals for the Devils, who thought they had tied the game with 3:36 left in regulation when David Clarkson knocked in a rebound only to have the goal waved off because Clarkson was judged to have kicked the puck into the net. The call of no-goal was upheld after a video review.
"If we played well right from the get-go it would have been a lot different," Brodeur said. "You create your own breaks and right now we're not."
Karlsson picked off a clearing pass at the right point and fired a shot through traffic that went past a screened Brodeur and into the net at 16:30 of the first period. Elias tied it 4:46 into the second when his wrister from the high slot hit Pascal Leclaire in the catching glove, popped out and trickled into the net.
Michalek put the Senators ahead to stay at 9:39 with his first goal in 10 games, beating Brodeur low to the stick side. Ruutu made it 3-1 at 11:56 when he banked a shot off Brodeur from behind the net.
Zubrus made it a one-goal game again at 14:10 when he took a great pass from Travis Zajac and beat Leclaire with a one-timer from just above the hash marks.
Clouston hopes the win gives his fragile team a confidence boost.
"We've been in the games," Clouston said. "Fortunately tonight we finished it off and got the two points and we've got to build on that."
Clarkson admitted he hadn't seen the replay of his waved-off goal, but said he didn't believe he had kicked the puck in. Considering the Devils luck, he wasn't that surprised to have the goal called back.
"That's been our season so far," Clarkson said. "We're not winning and it's frustrating. We'll hear how we're playing well, but obviously not well enough because we're not winning. It's tough to swallow."
Material from wire services was used in this report