Senators-Devils Preview

The Associated Press

Much like Ilya Kovalchuk wasn't worried about his lack of scoring earlier this month, coach Peter DeBoer isn't about to panic over the New Jersey Devils' minor slump.

Kovalchuk looks to extend his point streak to seven as New Jersey seeks a ninth win in the last 10 home matchups with the Ottawa Senators on Monday.

Mired in a five-game stretch without a point from Jan. 29-Feb. 5, Kovalchuk remained confident and declared his scoring would pick up. He's responded with three goals and seven assists over his last six.

Kovalchuk had an assist Saturday, though the Devils (9-3-3) fell 5-1 to the New York Islanders for their second loss in three games. DeBoer's team, though, has won six of its last eight overall, and he knows Saturday won't be the last loss New Jersey suffers.

"No one likes to lose, but you're going to lose some games," DeBoer said. "There (are) no easy stretches this season and we're going to bounce back Monday afternoon.''

A possible reason to worry may be the penalty kill, which allowed three goals in six short-handed situations. The Devils have given up at least one power-play goal in five straight games, with opponents converting 38.1 percent of their chances during that stretch after New Jersey killed its previous 19 penalties.

"Bottom line, our (penalty kill) wasn't good enough. That's the difference,'' defenseman Bryce Salvador said. "Usually, PKs are our strength. If our PK does the job, it's a different game."

New Jersey has killed off 27 of 31 penalties while winning eight of its last nine meetings with the Senators at home. It took three of four overall matchups last season with Ottawa, which is attempting to overcome some major injuries.

Already without Jason Spezza (back), the Senators (7-6-2) lost their first game without reigning Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson (season-ending Achilles tear), falling 3-0 at Toronto on Saturday.

Injured players have sat out a combined 47 games and counting for Ottawa, which has scored only 11 goals - and gone 2 for 31 (6.5 percent) on the power play - while going 2-5-1 in February.

"You've got to stay positive or you're not going to get anything done," center Zack Smith said. "It's a short season so hopefully we can figure it out soon."

Captain Daniel Alfredsson, who has one assist over his last four games, hopes the Senators can close out their three-game road trip on a positive note after rookies David Dziurzynski, Derek Grant and Eric Gryba played well in their NHL debuts.

"We played a pretty solid road game,'' Alfredsson said. "Overall, the new guys came in and the whole team played a solid road game and gave us a chance to win.''

Craig Anderson made 26 saves Saturday, but Ben Bishop will get the nod in goal Monday. He's lost both of his starts in regulation with a 3.03 goals-against average, but made 33 saves in a 1-0 loss March 20 in his only career start versus the Devils.

Martin Brodeur, who is 4-1-0 with a 2.01 GAA over his last five starts, will be in net for New Jersey. He's 5-1-0 with a 1.89 GAA in his last seven home starts versus Ottawa, but he's just 2-4-1 with a 2.56 GAA in his last seven overall against the Senators.

Kovalchuk had four goals in the 2011-12 season series, while Alfredsson has only two goals in his last 16 versus the Devils.

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