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Senators hit the road to challenge Devils

by Brian Hunter

SENATORS (14-15-6) at DEVILS (13-15-6)


Last 10: Ottawa 4-4-2; New Jersey 4-5-1

Season series: This is the second of three games between the Ottawa Senators and New Jersey Devils. Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson each had a goal and two assists when the Senators beat the Devils 5-2 at Canadian Tire Centre on Oct. 17.

Big story: As each team tries to move up the standings in its division, rookie defensemen have been playing key roles. The Senators recently called up Cody Ceci, and the 19-year-old scored his first NHL goal in overtime Monday to defeat the St. Louis Blues. The Devils have been giving significant minutes to Eric Gelinas and Jon Merrill. Gelinas has nine power-play points, one behind Torey Krug of the Boston Bruins for the NHL lead.

Team Scope:

Senators: It's uncertain how long Ceci will remain in Ottawa now that Eric Gryba is back from suspension and Marc Methot is recovered from the flu, but the Senators have seen flashes of the talent that made him the 15th pick in the 2012 NHL Draft during the three games he's played.

Ceci received 21:08 of ice time and was plus-2 against the Blues. He spent most of the night paired with veteran Chris Phillips. They were on the ice for the game-tying goal in the third period, when Bobby Ryan scored his 16th of the season in his 35th game. That's five more than Ryan scored in 46 games last season for the Anaheim Ducks.

"That's a pretty special feeling. I hope he enjoys it," Ryan said in the Ottawa Sun of Ceci's OT heroics. "I don't think he could have scripted it any better."

Devils: There was initial concern when forward Dainius Zubrus didn't see the ice in the final few minutes against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday in spite of the Lightning net being empty and Zubrus one goal from a hat trick. He didn't skate Monday, but coach Peter DeBoer said it was a maintenance day and the veteran was back on the ice Tuesday.

Zubrus has formed a potent line for the Devils along with wing Jaromir Jagr and center Travis Zajac. Jagr set up both of Zubrus' third-period goals in the 3-0 win against the Lightning and took pleasure in poking fun at him afterward. The two played together with the Washington Capitals from 2001-04.

"I got traded from Pittsburgh and had 120 points," Jagr was quoted as saying in The (Bergen) Record. "They put [Zubrus] on the line and I had 70. So, it was a 50 percent drop. So, it wasn’t a good move.

"But after 10 years he's a little bit better."

Who's hot: Ryan has three multipoint games in his past five for the Senators. Forward Kyle Turris has four assists in the past three games. … Zubrus has three goals and two assists during a four-game point streak. Forward Damien Brunner has three goals in as many games. Jagr has six assists in the past four games.

Injury report: New Jersey will have forward Stephen Gionta (ankle) back in the lineup Wednesday after he missed the past 11 games. Forward Ryane Clowe (concussion), out since Oct. 13, has been cleared to return but is getting in game shape. He skated on the fourth line at practice Tuesday after forward Cam Janssen left with an apparent leg injury. Janssen will be able to play Wednesday. Clowe could be ready by Friday. Defensemen Bryce Salvador (foot), Adam Larsson (lower body) and Peter Harrold (foot) and forward Ryan Carter (lower body) are on injured reserve. Salvador and Larsson have been skating on their own.

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