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NEWARK, N.J. - New Jersey Devils coach Pete DeBoer is out of answers at this point, and his team may be out of the playoffs after its ninth straight loss, a 2-0 shutout at home to the Ottawa Senators on Friday.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Milan Michalek each scored a goal in the second period, and goalie Craig Anderson came up with 33 saves for the shutout before a disappointed home crowd of 16,099 at the Prudential Center.
After watching his team waste another 5-on-3 advantage in the first period for the second straight game, DeBoer has no explanations. He just knows that the Devils have to do something different.
"We have to get creative,'' DeBoer said. "We have to find a way to score some goals. As a coaching staff we have to find creative ways to fix it because it's not good enough. Whether it's changing lines around or spending more time with our power play, I don't know the answer. We have to look outside of the box."
The Devils (15-16-10), the 2012 Stanley Cup runner-up, stand 10th in the Eastern Conference standings with 40 points. The Rangers (44), with a game in hand, are eighth, and Winnipeg, which has six games to play, stands ninth, also with 44 points.
"We just have to keep going until they tell us we're eliminated," said DeBoer of the 0-5-4 skid.
Can the Devils still make the playoffs with seven games to go? The bigger question might be whether New Jersey can win another game this season?
This was the second shutout against New Jersey in the losing streak, the first being a 1-0 loss at Boston on April 4. It was the first shutout loss at home for the Devils since Colorado's Jean-Sebastian Giguere made 33 saves in a 1-0 win on March 15, 2012.
"We did a great job of cleaning up rebounds in front," Anderson said. "Our battle level out front was outstanding and it kept them from getting to a lot of loose pucks. You like to take most of the play to them, but I think they were pretty hungry in the third. I think we weathered the storm pretty well. We did what it took to win the game."
The Devils are 3-15-6 when their opponent scores first, and they have lost four straight at home. New Jersey next plays at Toronto on Monday. The Devils outshot Ottawa, 33-11.
"We just can't find ways to break through, and it starts with a 5-on-3 for the second game in a row that we couldn't capitalize on," Devils goalie Martin Brodeur said. "Defensively, it was one of the most boring games I've played in a long time. We played pretty solid. It's hard to explain to people who are watching us. What can you say? There is no secret in hockey, you have to score goals. The more games we lose, the slimmer our chances are of making the playoffs."
Ottawa (21-14-6) took a 1-0 lead 3:08 into the second period on the first career goal by Pageau. The Ottawa native made his NHL debut on Thursday against the Flyers, picking up an assist. He got his first goal when he skated in front of the net and deflected a backhand shot by Colin Greening past Brodeur.
"He did the little things you need to do, he got to the net and his hard work paid off," Anderson said of Pageau's goal.
It became a 2-0 game at 6:52 of the second when Michalek finished a two-man rush on a pass from Daniel Alfredsson. The play started from a faceoff taken to the left of Anderson. The puck squirted out toward the blue line, where Devils defensemen Marek Zidlicky and Henrik Tallinder bumped into each other. That sprung Alfredsson for the dash that Michalek knocked past a helpless Brodeur.
"I'll take Milan and Alfy on a two-on-oh over six three-on-twos," Anderson said. "The percentage of scoring with Alfy and Milan are pretty high."
For the first time in their last four home games, the Devils did not allow a first-period goal, but New Jersey's futility on the power play continued. Since Steve Sullivan scored a power-play goal in the first period against Buffalo on Sunday, the Devils have not scored with an extra skater in 15 straight opportunities.
The Devils had a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:24 in the first period and managed just two shots. New Jersey was 0-for-3 on the power play in the first and 0-for-4 overall.
"It's really tough to explain,'' Sullivan said. "It seems like the same story every night and it's tough to take. If you don't score on a 5-on-3, you're putting yourself in a deep hole. You don't usually win those games. It's starting to wear on the guys. It's frustrating when you don't score goals."
NOTES: Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk did not participate in the morning skate and missed his ninth straight game Friday. Heading into Friday, the Devils had not won since Kovalchuk injured his shoulder during the third period of a 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers on March 23."Closer, but no timetable yet," DeBoer said.... Brodeur was in net for the 11th straight game since returning from a pinched nerve in his neck on March 21. In the 11 games, Brodeur is 2-5-4...The Devils went into Friday's game missing two defensemen, team captain Bryce Salvador and Anton Volchenkov. Salvador has a badly bruised wrist, courtesy of a Zdeno Chara's slap shot in the Bruins' 5-4 victory on Wednesday. In that same game, Volchenkov earned a four-game suspension for elbowing Boston's Brad Marchand in the head...Ottawa won the first two games of the series against the Devils, both in shootouts, including a 3-2 win on March 25.