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Sens tie game in third, top Devils in shootout

by Mike G. Morreale

NEWARK, N.J. -- Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean has every reason to use injuries as an excuse for his team's recent shortcomings.

Instead, he'd prefer to take a different approach.

"Frustration is a useless emotion that we can't have, so we just have to keep working at it," the second-year coach said.

That advice was certainly taken to heart Monday afternoon when the Senators spotted the New Jersey Devils a one-goal lead in the opening 1:19 of the game, before Daniel Alfredsson tied it the third and Jakob Silfverberg sealed it with the only goal in a shootout to give Ottawa a 2-1 victory before 17,625 at Prudential Center.

"We stuck with it," Alfredsson said. "We didn't get off to the best of starts, but our goalie played solid the rest of the game and gave us a chance going into the third. In the third, we played our best period."

Senators goalie Ben Bishop, who was making his third start of the season, was particularly impressive. After allowing a goal by Stephen Gionta on New Jersey's second shot of the game, the 26-year-old backup to Craig Anderson turned aside 29 straight to give his team their third victory in seven matches.

"It's a huge win," Bishop said. "We didn't get the bounces [in a 3-0 loss to Toronto on Saturday] but played a tough one [against New Jersey]. Now we just have to keep it going."

MacLean, who is without the services of defenseman Erik Karlsson (left Achilles), and forwards Jason  Spezza (back surgery) and Milan Michalek (knee), was proud of the effort.

"We worked hard to get some scoring opportunities," MacLean said. "I don't think we started the game well in our own zone but Bishop played well in the first to keep us in it [with 16 saves]. After that, we played hard and deserved the points."

At the other end, Devils goalie Martin Brodeur was equally splendid behind 29 saves.

Bishop forced Ilya Kovalchuk wide and stopped Patrik Elias before Silfverberg snapped a shot past Brodeur in the second round. The 6-foot-7, 214-pound keeper then forced ex-Senator Bobby Butler wide of the net to end the game.

Devils coach Peter DeBoer said his decision to use Butler in the shootout was strictly a hunch.

"It was just a gut feeling," he said. "He's playing his former team and is a motivated guy. There was no science to it. It didn't work but I don't regret picking him."

Butler was surprised to receive a chance, but just wishes the outcome was different.

"Bishop is a big guy who takes up a lot of the net, so I tried to freeze him and just missed my shot," Butler said. "I was glad to get that chance, but just wish I could have buried it."

Brodeur slammed his stick on the ice in frustration following Silfverberg's goal.

"I thought I had it … I dipped my glove a little too low when he shot it," Brodeur said. "I read it pretty good, but just missed it."

Silfverberg was glad to have his number called in the shootout against Brodeur.

"I was very happy to get the chance to take the second shot," he said. "Going in, I just wanted to get a quick shot off and decided to go on the glove side. I wasn't surprised [to be chosen in the shootout] but just very happy. I wanted to prove to the coaches that I can be relied on to take shots in the shootouts in the future."

The Devils opened the overtime period a man short for 1:48 with Elias in the box for goalie interference. The scrum that ensued following the Elias penalty including unsportsmanlike conduct minors to New Jersey's David Clarkson and Ottawa's Chris Neil. Clarkson was also assessed a 10-minute misconduct, meaning he would be out the remainder of the OT.

The Senators pulled into a 1-1 tie 8:12 into the third when Alfredsson converted a backhand attempt over Brodeur. The goal marked Ottawa's first since Karlsson suffered his Achilles injury with 23 seconds remaining in the second period of an eventual 4-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Feb. 13 -- spanning six-plus periods.

Kyle Turris made the play possible when he maintained possession of the puck just inside the Devils blue line at the right point before feeding Silfverberg in the right corner. Silfverberg spotted Alfredsson in front, and the veteran wing waited patiently before lofting a shot over Brodeur -- his fourth of the season and the 420th of his career.

The Silfverberg-Turris-Alfredsson line, together for the first time this season, was extremely active and effective throughout the game.

"That was the first time we played together and we found some chemistry and could have had even more chances," Alfredsson said.

Silfverberg was thrilled to have an opportunity to play with Alfredsson, Ottawa's captain.

"I've been playing with Kyle for a couple of games but to now get Alfie, that's a big opportunity for me and a lot of fun," Silfverberg said.

New Jersey lost third-line forward Ryan Carter to a head injury with 4:32 left in the second after he was sandwiched along the left-wing half boards in the Senators end by Dave Dziurzynski and Neil. Carter said he felt OK after the game.

"I don't recall how the hit went," he said. "I know there was a guy on my back side and a guy on my front side. I haven't seen the video to know exactly what happened."

DeBoer juggled his line combinations following the injury to get his offense untracked. In two straight losses, the Devils have scored just two goals.

"We had some opportunities to get the second goal at different points but we let them hang around and that's what happens," DeBoer said. "I thought we could have had a couple early in the game, but they showed resiliency and hung around and got one in the third."

Bishop's best save of the game came 8:09 into the second when he denied Elias off a one-timer in the slot following a feed from Butler to keep his team within one. The Senators then barely missed squaring the contest at 9:57 when Silfverberg's shot from the left circle rang off the short side post behind Brodeur.

The Devils opened a 1-0 lead just 1:19 into the first when Gionta scored his first goal in 13 games. Steve Bernier battled for a loose puck along the left wing boards before releasing a long wrist shot that Bishop stopped but couldn't control. Gionta, cruising through the slot, picked up the puck and buried his second of the season.


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