Ottawa Senators step it up with 5-2 win over New Jersey Devils

It looked rough when two goals against were scored in a short span early in the second period, but they turned it around in a big way.

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Senators 5, Devils 2

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If you didn’t know better, you’d think the Ottawa Senators were battling for their playoff lives Saturday in New Jersey.

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They forechecked well, they passed well, they shot well, they won battles, they were good on takeaways and light on giveaways and they got decent enough goaltending.

They did a lot of things right, a lot of the things you need to be a contender.

While they’re not mathematically eliminated from the National Hockey League playoffs, yet, it will happen in the coming days or weeks.

It was the Devils, who went into the game with 72 points, six out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, who needed that kind of effort. But, other than two goals in the first minute of the second period, the Devils were head-scratchingly bad.

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Give full credit, though, to the Senators, who won 5-2.

“We didn’t panic after those two quick goals in the second,” said Senators winger Mathieu Joseph, who had a goal and an assist. “We kept our composure, we stayed calm on the bench. We found a way to keep going. When you play against good teams in this league, you have to play good defence.”

The Senators scored short-handed at 4:56 of the first period. Joseph raced in alone and found an opening between the legs of New Jersey goalie Jake Allen. The shot hit the inside of Allen’s pads and trickled into the net. It was Joseph’s first goal since Feb. 19.

A huge mistake early in the second period proved costly to the Senators. A drop pass near the New Jersey deadline missed Jakob Chychrun. It was intercepted by Jesper Bratt, who slid the puck under Ottawa goalie Joonas Korpisalo on a breakaway 23 seconds in.

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Then, 36 seconds later, too many Senators got caught in the middle of their defensive zone and Tomas Nosek, alone to the side of Korpisalo, knocked the puck into the net.

Soon after, though, Ottawa’s Ridly Grieg found himself in alone after taking a pass from Joseph, and he deked Allen before tucking the puck into the net. And, just 4:06 into the period, it was 2-2.

Angus Crookshank blasted a shot into the net 6:02 into the period to make it 3-2 for Ottawa.

After a nice three-way passing play — between Brady Tkachuk, Erik Brannstrom and Thomas Chabot — the Senators made it 4-2 with Chabot scoring at 9:01. Three Devils defenders were caught up ice.

In the third period, Ottawa’s Drake Batherson went top shelf with a backhand after the Devils turned the puck over in their own zone. That goal made it 5-2 with 9:45 left.

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Angus Crookshank Ottawa Senators
Angus Crookshank of the Senators shoots the puck past Nick DeSimone of the during the first period of play on Saturday night. Photo by Adam Hunger /Getty Images

ICE CHIPS: Good decision to play Crookshank on a line with Tim Stutzle and Claude Giroux. The rookie forward displayed plenty of spunk … It didn’t take long for a fight to happen. Just 2:38 in, Ottawa’s Mark Kastelic dropped the gloves with New Jersey’s Kurtis MacDermid. Call it a split decision … Good job by the Senators: The Devils had just one shot in the final 12 minutes of the first period. Actually, there wasn’t much action at either end in that period, as Ottawa outshot New Jersey 6-4 … New Jersey’s Jack Hughes found himself alone to the side of Korpisalo late in the second period, with all kinds of time. He tried to dipsy-doodle his way around the goalie, but missed … The Senators’ power play went into the game with a 73.7-per-cent efficiency rate, second-worst in the NHL. Didn’t look that bad Saturday. Near the end of their third straight penalty kill, Devils fans booed their team. There were more boos when the Devils whiffed on their fourth opportunity … Korpisalo had allowed nine goals on 59 shots in his two previous games … Ottawa has a Sunday home game against the Edmonton Oilers, starting at 6 p.m.

Brady Tkachuk Ottawa Senators
Senators captain Brady Tkachuk knocks Dawson Mercer of the Devils to the ice during the second period on Saturday night. Photo by Adam Hunger /Getty Images

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