Devils stop Sens cold
BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency
|Senators forward Rob Klinkhammer battles with Devils defenceman Marek Zidlicky (left) and forward Petr Sykora at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Ont., March 20, 2012. (ERROL McGIHON/QMI Agency)
OTTAWA - The Senators need to start scoring goals. Fast.
The latest goalie to look like a Vezina candidate against Ottawa: New Jersey's Johan "Freaking" Hedberg. The Senators have only five goals in their last four games.
The Senators fell five points back of the Devils in a battle for the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference, with a 1-0 loss at Scotiabank Place.
"They were a little bit harder at the net than we were," said Senators coach Paul MacLean. "Our determination and work ethic doesn't have to get a whole lot better, but it has to get a little bit better."
With Jason Spezza sitting out because of the flu, Hedberg made 34 stops to record his fourth shutout.
MacLean said Spezza was missed.
"Especially at the end of game on that 5-on-3. He would have made a difference for sure," said MacLean, who used three blueliners on the two-man advantage.
Only Ilya Kovalchuk, with his 400th career goal, was able to beat Ben Bishop.
With only eight games left, the Senators, who have only been shut out twice this season, don't have a playoff spot locked up and they'd better start looking behind them. Losses like this give the Caps and Sabres an opportunity to move closer.
"We feel like we should have had at least a point," said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, who hasn't scored in 11 games. "I thought we played a really solid game.
"Every game you lose is disappointing. I don't know if you feel more for some than others, especially at this time of year, but we did step up our play. We skated a lot better against a tight-checking team."
Ottawa went 0-for-3 on the power play and is 0-for-21 in its last six games. Not having Spezza play his 600th career game hurt. He has 26 points in 26 career games against the Devils. The loss of Spezza not only left the club without its biggest scoring threat, it meant MacLean had to juggle all the lines.
The biggest change saw Kyle Turris in the middle of Milan Michalek and Alfredsson.
Jim O'Brien moved to the second-line centre role between Nick Foligno and Chris Neil.
A kneeing penalty to Zenon Konopka, returning to the lineup after being a scratch for five straight games, turned out to be costly. Konopka got caught flat-footed and stuck his leg out on Zach Parise late in the second. That led to Kovalchuk's goal on a blast from the point.
"It was a knuckle-puck. It started coming at my head and I think it went low blocker," said Bishop. "It's a bad bounce."
Erik Condra was awarded a penalty shot after he was taken down by former Senators defenceman Anton Volchenkov in the first period.
But Condra, who has one goal in 34 games, was stopped trying to go five-hole.
Condra said he didn't seek any advice on the penalty shot.
"Guys watch the shootouts before the game," said Condra. "(Hedberg) looks good if you score five-hole. If you don't, it doesn't look so good."
The Senators are off until they face the Montreal Canadiens Friday night at the Bell Centre.