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Senators-Devils Preview

AP - Sports

New Jersey is locked into the sixth spot for the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, awaiting the winner of the Southeast Division.

The Ottawa Senators can finish seventh or eighth depending on their result Saturday against the Devils and may be content with the latter given how they match up with the other division champions.

The Senators (41-30-10) squandered an opportunity to secure seventh in the East with Thursday's 3-1 loss to Boston, their division rival and potential first-round playoff opponent if they get at least one point from this game.

Ottawa dropped five of six to the Northeast champions this season, though captain Daniel Alfredsson chalked up the most recent defeat more to the letdown following a late push that clinched a postseason spot for the Senators than anything a Bruins team did despite playing without regulars Tim Thomas, Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron.

"We really tried to stay upbeat and keep our game going after the four wins and clinching the playoff spot, but just emotionally it's been tough to regroup and get the game to where we want," Alfredsson said after the team's second straight defeat.

"(Thursday) it was the same thing. Both teams played pretty good, but it's not close to being a playoff-type game or the intensity that we're going to see next week. It's more mental than anything."

Ottawa would slip to eighth with a loss to New Jersey (47-28-6), Florida getting at least one point against Carolina and Washington defeating the New York Rangers since the Panthers would clinch the Southeast and the Capitals would have more regulation victories than the Senators.

Coach Paul MacLean's team, though, won both its games at Madison Square Garden over top-seeded and Atlantic Division champion New York and three of four overall between the teams. MacLean, however, didn't express a preference to face either the Bruins or the Rangers.

"It's between two teams, I think we'll be fine," he said. "We know we're on the road and we wanted to play 82 games and see where we ended up and see what it was. We have one game to play and see where we end up after that. But we know one thing for sure - we're in the playoffs."

New Jersey will start its postseason at either Florida or Washington and has the chance to close the season with six straight victories. The Devils hit 100 points with their 2-1 win at Detroit on Thursday night, as Martin Brodeur secured his 14th 30-win season and Petr Sykora had his 11th 20-goal campaign.

"A good place to get it (his 30th win)," said Brodeur, the NHL's all-time leader with 655 victories. "Just before the playoffs, I wanted to get a feel for the road. ... It's a good team. I just wanted to test myself in this type of game."

Brodeur has gone 0-0-1 in two starts against the Senators this season and was pulled following the first period of New Jersey's 5-4 shootout win Dec. 8.

Senators center Jason Spezza, who scored Thursday to extend his goal and point streaks to three and six games, respectively, has three consecutive multipoint games against New Jersey.

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