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Devils snap three-game skid, hand Sens third straight loss

New Jersey Devils celebrate New Jersey Devils celebrate - The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — Brady Tkachuk did everything he could but the Ottawa Senators fell 4-3 to the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night, officially eliminating them from playoff contention.

Tkachuk, who had a team-high seven shots, scored a late third-period goal to bring the Senators (33-39-4) within one, but they were unable to score the equalizer despite a desperate push that included a Shane Pinto shot off the post.

Tkachuk set a single-game franchise record with 16 hits.

“He’s the best power forward in the NHL,” said Ottawa defenceman Jake Sanderson, who had a power-play goal. “When he goes out and does that and puts the team on his back to claw back, it’s impressive. We follow him every night.”

The Devils were led by Brendan Smith, who had a goal and two assists for his first career three-point game. Erik Haula, Ondrej Palat and Nico Hischier also scored for New Jersey (37-36-4), which won the season series 2-1.

Jake Allen made 25 saves.

The win allowed the Devils to snap a three-game losing streak and gain a little confidence.

“We’ve had a couple games with the lead in the third and we give it up,” said Hischier. “So, it’s definitely good to get that one.”

Claude Giroux also scored for Ottawa, which is now mired in a three-game losing streak. Joonas Korpisalo made 18 saves in relief of Anton Forsberg, who allowed three goals on nine shots.

Trailing 4-1 entering the third period, Giroux cut the Devils lead in half with a power-play goal from the top of the faceoff circle at 3:37.

Moments later, New Jersey forward Jack Hughes was awarded a penalty shot after Ottawa defenceman Thomas Chabot wrapped his stick around him on a breakaway. However, Hughes whiffed on the puck.

Tkachuk made it a one-goal game with 5:43 left in the third. A Hischier slapshot went wide, wrapped around the boards and went down the ice just as Tkachuk was getting on the ice and he broke in alone, beating Allen far side for his 34th of the season.

“The third period, it felt like that was probably our best period all year,” said Tkachuk. “We just did the little things right, put it behind them, got physical and a lot of guys stepped up.

"Hit a post, a couple of chances that could’ve gone in and just the goalie made some big saves or there were big blocks by their team. Tough result, but proud of the pushback and the effort that we had there.”

Devils interim coach Travis Green admitted the team may not have played its best in the third, but was relieved to walk away with two points.

“I thought we got a little panicky when Tkachuk scored his goal,” said Green. “It was an unfortunate play in the offensive zone when we miss the net and they score.

"You could feel it on the bench a little bit. We tried to tell the guys to take a breath, but sometimes you’ve just got to go through with it.”

Sanderson put the Senators on the board with a power-play goal just 33 seconds into the second period. He blasted a shot past Allen from the blue line to make it a 3-1 contest, setting a career high in points with 33 (nine goals, 24 assists).

The Devils regained their three-goal lead at 11:04 when Hischier beat Korpisalo in close.

New Jersey jumped out to a 3-0 edge in the opening period.

Haula beat Forsberg under the arm stick side 3:50 into the first. It marked the 20th time this season that the Senators gave up a goal on the opposition’s first two shots.

“It’s tough,” said Senators interim coach Jacques Martin. “You make a mistake and the puck’s in your net. So we’ve got to be better as a group.”

Palat doubled the lead at 12:36, tipping a Luke Hughes shot.

Smith made it 3-0 with a slapshot at 16:34, marking the end of Forsberg’s night.

NOTES — Chabot returned after missing four games with a lower body injury. Ottawa centre Tim Stutzle is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. … Devils defenceman John Marino did not play and is questionable for Sunday’s game against Nashville.

UP NEXT — Ottawa visits Washington to take on the Capitals on Sunday.

New Jersey hosts the Nashville Predators on Sunday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 6, 2024.