Rested Senators, Devils seek fresh starts

NHL
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While a needed victory provided the Ottawa Senators with some momentum going into the All-Star break, the New Jersey Devils come out of it trying to end their latest slide.

Seeking to win consecutive games for the first time in more than two months, the Senators look to hand the visiting Devils a fourth straight loss Monday night.

Two teams near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, Ottawa and New Jersey are separated by one point with 42 and 41, respectively. And, the days leading up to the recent All-Star break weren’t totally kind to either club.

Ottawa snapped a season-worst 0-5-4 slide with its first win of 2020, 5-2 over Calgary in its most recent contest on Jan. 18. Connor Brown, Vladislav Namestnikov and All-Star Brady Tkachuk each had a goal with an assist and Marcus Hogberg made 40 saves for the Senators’ first victory since Dec. 23.

With their bye week preceding the All-Star break, the Senators have had plenty of time to regroup and refocus. Ottawa last won back-to-back contests during a three-game winning streak from Nov. 19-22.

“I feel like the bye week is the unofficial start to the second half of the season instead of the 41-game mark,” All-Star Anthony Duclair, who has a team-leading 33 points and snapped a five-game point drought in the most recent game, told the Senators’ official website. “So, whatever happened, good or bad, in the first half is done with, and you need to move on from.

“I think it’s important to come back from the break with a fresh and open mind.”

Ottawa broke out against the Flames after being held to two or fewer goals in the previous five games. Brown (31 points) has recorded a goal with an assist in three straight contests.

Brown and Duclair combined for three assists while the Senators split the previous two meetings with New Jersey this season. Jack Hughes’ goal early in overtime gave the Devils a 4-3 victory at Ottawa in the most recent get-together on Dec. 29.

That kicked off a three-game winning streak for New Jersey, but it’s 2-5-1 since that run. The Devils have been outscored 17-6 during their current three-game skid that culminated with a 5-0 loss at Columbus on Jan. 18.

Like Ottawa, the Devils had plenty of time to get their minds and bodies right to move ahead with the season.

“We’ve got to get a little bit hungrier, a little nastier at the net front — both net fronts,” defenseman Andy Greene told the Devils’ official website.

“Personally, take stock in what you want to focus on, what you want to get better at, and how you can improve getting out of the break.”

New Jersey veteran goaltender Cory Schneider was pulled after allowing four goals on 17 shots vs. Columbus in his first start since Nov. 8.

As Ottawa awaits the return of netminder Anders Nilsson (9-9-2, 3.18 goals-against average) from a concussion suffered in mid-December, Hogberg has a 2.17 goals-against average while going 1-0-3 as a starter in 2020. Veteran Craig Anderson has a 4.75 goals-against average during his 0-4-1 starting slide.

New Jersey All-Star Nico Hischier has four goals and five assists in eight games vs. Ottawa.

–Field Level Media

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