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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Devils' season is going straight to...

Drop ninth straight in loss to Senators

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NEWARK, N.J. -- After two straight wins, the Ottawa Senators are feeling a little better about their playoff chances. The New Jersey Devils, on the other hand, couldn't feel any worse after absorbing their ninth straight loss.

Craig Anderson made 33 saves in his third shutout of the season, and the Senators extended the Devils' losing streak to within one of the franchise record with a 2-0 victory Friday night.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Milan Michalek scored second-period goals for the Senators, who won for the second consecutive night following a five-game skid.

"It does a lot," Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said of the playoff push. "We've done a good job of staying positive. We lost five in a row but our fourth and fifth games we felt we were going in the right direction. We were playing pretty good. The last two wins is a reward for that hard play, and you build some confidence from that."

Ottawa, in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, lead ninth-place Winnipeg by four points. New Jersey is in 10th place, eight points behind Ottawa and four behind the New York Rangers and the post-season cutoff with seven games to play.

The Senators will finish a season-high, seven-game trip at Boston on Monday. They will then play five of their final six at home, where they are 13-3-3.

"We got two points. That's all that matters," Anderson said after his 22nd career shutout. "Thirty three shots isn't really that many shots. It's average for us. We did a great job of cleaning up rebounds in front. I felt like I was leaving a lot of junk out there, but our battle level was outstanding."

The defending East champion Devils dropped to 0-5-4 without injured star forward Ilya Kovalchuk.

Devils goalie Martin Brodeur said this skid has been one of the most frustrating in his 19 seasons with the club.

"It's been tough because the guys, they care, and they are playing hard," the 40-year-old Brodeur said. "I see them between periods and how tired they are and how focused they are and how the coaching staff is getting them ready. When you go out there and execute what you are supposed to do and you come back with nothing -- what is it, eight or nine games in a row -- it's just a tough way to play hockey."

Kovalchuk appears close to returning to the lineup, but it might be too late for the Devils. Their skid began when he sustained a shoulder injury on March 23 against Florida.

As has been the case in recent weeks, New Jersey seemed to control the territorial play and the shot count, but it didn't help produce any goals.

"It just happens everything is working against us now," said forward Patrik Elias, who played on two of the Devils' Stanley Cup championship teams. "We're working hard and trying to create our own luck, and it's not happening."

Despite outshooting the Senators 23-9 in the opening 40 minutes and getting an early two-man advantage for the second straight game, the Devils trailed 2-0 heading into the third period.

Pageau, called up from Binghamton of the AHL on Wednesday, earned an assist that night in the win at Philadelphia. Then he scored his first NHL goal in his second game.

Erik Condra intercepted a pass around the boards by Devils defenceman Mark Fayne and tried to centre it from deep in the right corner. The puck deflected off Devils centre Andrei Loktionov, and went right to Colin Greening between the circles.

Greening sent a backhander toward goal and Pageau came out from behind the net and tipped the puck over Brodeur's shoulder at 3:08.

"It's a great feeling," Pageau said. "In the American League, it took me 25 games to get my first one. Scoring in my second game, I'm really happy and looking forward to scoring more."

The goal came on the Senators' first legitimate shot on goal after they had three in the first period.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 13, 2013 C9

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