WHY THE SENATORS WON
They employed the same strategy that got them a 2-1 win over the Devils earlier this month. New Jersey is content to just sit back and wait for the other guys to make a mistake, and apparently so are the Senators. They didn’t get many chances (25 shots on the night), but a few goals were all they needed to play spoiler.
Chris Neil, Senators
Let’s give it to the tough guy for once. Neil was the lone bright spot in Ottawa’s 5-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins Tuesday, winning a tough first period fight with Penguins tough guy Deryk Engelland. He stood out in a different way against the Devils, tipping in the game-winner in the third period and adding an empty-netter.
Ilya Kovalchuk, Devils
For the second time in as many games against the Senators, the Devils’ highest-paid and most talented player was a non-factor. On March. 8, he registered just one shot on goal and was a minus-one. Thursday night’s line: one shot, minus-one, with an unsuccessful breakaway attempt that he only got because he took a dumb penalty.
Who is this Curtis McElhinney? Certainly not the same guy who entered this game with such poor career numbers (16-23-4, 3.17 GAA, .894 save percentage). McElhinney had a handful of game-saving stops, including a particularly spectacular cross-crease pad stop on the Devils’ leading point-getter, Patrik Elias. He left the Devils shaking their heads again 20 seconds into the third period, when he sprawled to rob Vladimir Zharkov and Nick Palmieri point blank. Ottawa scored about 40 seconds after that to make it 2-0.
- 2: Road losses in New Jersey’s last 10.
- 4: Losses for Martin Brodeur in his last 19.
- 3-1: Ottawa’s record against the Devils this season, winning the series for the first time since 2003.
YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED
The Devils almost narrowed the gap on the scoreboard early in the third period when they thought they’d beaten McElhinney with a long point shot. The goal was immediately called off by the officials, however, who ruled centre Adam Mair interfered with the goaltender. Jersey did manage to bust the shutout bid a few minutes later on another point shot, but couldn’t find a way to build on it.
New Jersey writers have been asking the Devils whether or not they’re a ‘team of destiny,’ given their once-in-a-generation style run to the playoffs. Only problem: The Devils aren’t there yet. Not even close. In fact, they might be destined to miss the playoffs thanks to the plucky, NHL bottom-dweller currently playing out the string at Scotiabank Place. The Devils have only lost 3 of their last 18 games, and two of those losses have come against the lottery-picking, dream-killing Ottawa Senators.