The New Jersey Devils discovered it can be a pain to play against the Ottawa Senators and that has nothing to do with Monday's 2-1 shootout loss at Prudential Center.
The Devils appear to have skated past a potentially devastating setback as Ryan Carter absorbed a blow to the head, Patrik Elias absorbed a stick to the groin and David Clarkson suffered a neck injury in the loss. Fortunately for New Jersey, none of the injuries appear serious. Both Eilas and Carter spoke after the game, while Clarkson was not made available to the media as he was "with team staff." Whether that was coaches or doctors wasn't made clear.
Clarkson and Chris Neil got into an altercation with 13 seconds left in regulation. Elias triggered the scrum after Ottawa defenseman Eric Gryba got away with a spear to Elias' groin. Elias eventually ran over Ottawa goalie Ben Bishop and that got everyone involved.
“I got speared a little bit in the stomach, so I just kept going and tried to get inside position on the (defenseman) and get my body in there,” Elias told Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. “But I didn’t realize I was that close to the goalie and, obviously, they tried to protect their goalie, so it’s fine. No big deal.”
But it turned out to be a big deal as both Clarkson and Neil got misconducts, so the Devils' top scorer missed overtime and the shootout and Elias had to sit out the bulk of overtime.
As New Jersey coach Pete DeBoer noted: “Those are two of your top six guys, so that hurts,” DeBoer said.
As for the game itself, the Devils currently like a six-cylinder car hitting on only five cylinders. You'll get to your destination, but it won't be pretty or powerful.
New Jersey now has lost three of their last four games (1-2-1) and would be kidding themselves to be satisfied with getting a point out of the shootout.
“We’re getting points and I think that’s what’s important,” Devils captain Bryce Salvador told reporters, obviously tyring to kid someone. “Obviously, we’re not happy with our little stretch here. But we’re not over analyzing. We’re not making it more than it is. We’re aware of it and sometimes you go through those stretches. What’s going to be important is how we respond. Those are big points and we need those.”
Those points will come in an odd bit of scheduling, with back-to-back games against the Capitals in Washington Thursday and Saturday. Coupled with a home game Sunday against Winnipeg, the Devils need to get it in gear once again.
“I’m not going to beat our guys up,” DeBoer said. “The Islanders played their best game of the year against us the other night and they lose 7-0 today (to Philadelphia). This is a grind. You’re dealing with all kinds of different things. I thought we were better in some areas than we were against the Islanders. I think the story is similar to the Islander game where we have some opportunities to get the first and second goal and we don’t and the other team takes advantage of that.
“I think that’s where our mistakes lie tonight in not finishing and extending that lead.”
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