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Senators edge Devils in shootout

The SportsXchange

OTTAWA -- Defenseman Erik Karlsson had a big smile on his face after ending a meaningless game that had the potential to last all Thursday night.

"(The shootout) is a fun thing to do," said Karlsson, the only player to find mesh in a 2-1 victory for the Ottawa Senators over the New Jersey Devils at Canadian Tire Centre that took four rounds of the tie-breaking skills contest to settle. "It feels like we've been pretty successful with it. It was nice to score.

"We play this sport to win games even though we haven't done it on a regular basis this year. That's what we're going to keep playing for no matter where we are in the standings."

Both the Devils and Senators were playing their first game since officially being eliminated from the playoffs. The reason New Jersey fell short is pretty clear. The Devils are now 0-12 in shootouts, having scored a total of just three goals. They are 0-for-17 in shootouts in the past 13 months, going back to last season.

"We have to work on it," said Devils winger Jaromir Jagr, who was stopped in the shootout and on an overtime breakaway by Senators goalie Robin Lehner. "It's frustrating, no question about it. (Shootouts) probably cost us a playoff (spot)."

The result extended the Senators' winning streak at three games and improved their shootout record to 6-7. The Devils are now 4-1-4 in their last nine games and sit 28th in league offense with just 192 goals through 80 games.

"Every game we get so many chances, we just cannot score," said Jagr. "Goalies are too good or we are not good enough."

Both goalies were very good on this night. While Lehner made 38 saves through 65 minutes, Devils goalie Cory Schneider was also brilliant, stopping 31 Senators shots. Ottawa winger Mike Hoffman and New Jersey winger Michael Ryder accounted for the regulation-time scoring with second-period goals.

Lehner kept the game tied when he stoned Devils winger Patrik Elias with a right-pad save about eight minutes from the third-period buzzer. He made an even bigger glove stop off Devils defenseman Adam Larsson with less than 10 seconds to go in regulation.

"I had to make a few saves but I think for the most part we kept them to the outside and (teammates) helped me see the puck," said Lehner. "It was good we got the win."

The Senators lost center Mika Zibanejad in the third period to an injury that saw the 20-year-old taken to the hospital for what coach Paul MacLean said was "precautionary reasons."

"That's all I know," said MacLean.

Hoffman put the Senators on the board first when he took a pass from Zibanejad and whipped a shot past Schneider at 11:20 of the middle period. It was Hoffman's third goal of the season.

The Devils tied the scored just over six minutes later when Ryder notched his 18th from a goalmouth scramble.

Senators winger Ales Hemsky had a chance to break the ice when he was awarded a penalty shot after being hooked by Devils defenseman Marek Zidlicky at 10:48 of the second period. Schneider was able to get enough of Hemsky's low attempt to steer it wide.

Devils coach Peter DeBoer said he was proud of his team's effort, considering the circumstances.

New Jersey didn't get its first shot on goal until the 8:17 mark of the opening period. Schneider kept his team in the game through the slow start, making big stops off Senators wingers Clarke MacArthur and Mark Stone.

"I liked our game," said DeBoer. "You could see the first 10 minutes we were a little bit out of it. Getting eliminated (Wednesday) night, there was a little bit of a hangover. But I thought we started to get into the game, started to move, and I thought we carried the play. Again, we should have had more than one goal.

"The game was well played by us," added DeBoer. "We had every reason not to show up here, just mail it in. I knew they wouldn't and they didn't."

Senators center Jason Spezza echoed similar sentiments in the home team's dressing room.

"Guys are very professional and I think guys understand what is at stake," said the Ottawa captain. "Guys understand that we're expected to battle and win every night. Just because we're mathematically eliminated doesn't mean we're going to let up. It's obviously a good sign we're continuing to win games and continuing to go at teams. We've got two more and, hopefully, we can continue the same."

NOTES: Devils G Martin Brodeur served as the backup Thursday and said he hadn't been told if he would get another start this season. After the morning skate, Brodeur again hinted that his career in New Jersey is likely over, but that he wants to look at options to play elsewhere. ... Hours before scoring the game's first goal, Senators W Mike Hoffman was named to the left winger on the American Hockey League's first team all-star team. ... Devils W Jaromir Jagr, 42, wants to play next season. "I don't know where I'm going to play," he said. ... Senators G Robin Lehner will not necessarily jump at the chance to play for Sweden at the world championships in Belarus. "I think the thing that's tough, it's (spending) about a month there," Lehner said after the morning skate. "There are so many Swedish goalies, I don't know if I'm in the mix or not. I haven't heard anything, and when I hear something I've got to make a decision."
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