|Ottawa Senators' Robin Lehner stops a shot in front of New Jersey Devils' Rod Pelley. (REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)
NEWARK, N.J. — A superb effort by 19-year-old goalie Robin Lehner was spoiled by the ineptness of Ottawa’s offence Tuesday night.
The Senators returned from the break to pick up right where they left off, losing 2-1 to the New Jersey Devils in front of a scarce gathering at the Prudential Center.
The Senators have now lost seven in a row and 13 of their last 14.
Dainius Zubrus scored the winner with just 5:43 left in regulation time when the puck rolled up Chris Phillips’ stick and over the shoulder of Lehner.
Erik Karlsson was nowhere to help out, as he had jumped up looking to take the puck and attack.
The Senators looked like they would challenge one of the franchise’s all-time futility marks when they had just six shots on goal after two periods. (The record low is 10 shots, which is all they managed in a 3-1 loss to the Leafs Jan. 5, 2002.)
But they finally shook off the all-star break rust with a energetic third period that saw them fire 16 shots at Martin Brodeur.
Lehner, meanwhile, turned in a very strong game.
The only teenager to ever tend goal for the Senators stopped all nine shots he faced in the first period and 15-of-16 in an outstanding second.
The Devils opened the scoring in the first minute of the second period when Mike Fisher lost a defensive zone faceoff and Karlsson failed to sufficiently tie up Nick Palmieri, who backhanded his own rebound over a sprawled Lehner.
The Senators, whose power play has been horrid without the injured Jason Spezza, finally clicked with a two-man advantage less than five minutes later. Karlsson earned an assist by feeding the puck in deep to Daniel Alfredsson, who in turn sent a perfect goal-crease pass to Alex Kovalev.
For Kovalev, the goal ended an eight-game scoreless drought. It was just his second goal since Nov. 27.
The Senators host the Detroit Red Wings Wednesday.