Ottawa Senators officially eliminated with loss to New Jersey Devils

A spirited third-period rally fell short on Saturday night.

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The comeback fell short for the Ottawa Senators.

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On Fan Appreciation Night, the Senators gave their faithful the green light to make off-season plans after the club was officially eliminated from the National Hockey League’s playoffs for the seventh straight spring.

With only six games left in the schedule, the Senators will be playing out the string after dropping a 4-3 decision to the New Jersey Devils in front of a sellout crowd of 19,146 at the Canadian Tire Centre on Saturday night.

Trying to atone for a 6-0 loss to the Florida Panthers on Thursday, the Senators were better, but, like so many nights this season, they just weren’t good enough and couldn’t erase a three-goal third-period deficit.

Brady Tkachuk pulled the Senators to within a goal at 14:17 of the third period, beating Jake Allen with a shot on the glove side.

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Jake Sanderson and Claude Giroux also scored on the power play.

“That’s how we need to play. That third period was probably our best period all year,” said Tkachuk. “We just did the little things right, guys stepped up and we hit the post and we had chances.”

Not only did Tkachuk score, he also broke an NHL record for hits with 16 in the game. The old mark of 15 was set by Colorado’s Nikita Zadorov on March 22, 2018.

“He’s the best forward in the NHL,” said Sanderson. “When he goes out, and does that, and puts the team on his back to claw back, that’s impressive. We try to follow him every night.”


The Senators were without top centre Tim Stutzle, so that left interim head coach Jacques Martin no choice, but to make changes. Stutzle is day-to-day with what appears to be a shoulder injury,

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Rugged winger Boko Imama was recalled from the American Hockey League affiliate in Belleville. Winger Mathieu Joseph, who was taking faceoffs in the morning skate, was moved to centre on the third line, while Ridly Greig also moved back to the middle.

Defenceman Thomas Chabot, who had missed five games with a lower-body injury, returned to the lineup.

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Senators forward Parker Kelly tries to get past the Devils’ Luke Hughes during first-period action. Photo by Tony Caldwell /Postmedia


The story of this club’s goaltending woes is getting old and tired.

It was no different in this one. Martin opted to go with Anton Forsberg to start in net and decided he’d seen enough after Forsberg gave up three goals on the first nine shots. Forsberg was pulled with 3:06 left in the first period after Brendan Smith fired a shot from the point past him for a 3-0 Devils lead.

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That meant Joonas Korpisalo was forced to take over. He had given up four goals on 17 shots in the loss to the Panthers, so this is the second straight game the Senators were forced to make a change.

The Senators were much better in front of Korpisalo in the third.

“The team, in the third period, played really,” Martin said. “I thought we played smarter and in getting some shots. In the second period, we had five shots, you can’t score if you don’t shoot.”


Not long after Giroux pulled the Senators to within two goals at 3:37 of the third, New Jersey’s Jack Hughes was awarded a penalty shot. He didn’t even get a shot on the attempt … Nico Hischier extended the Devils’ lead to 4-1 with No. 26 of the season at 11:04 of the second period … Sanderson got the Senators on the board 33 seconds into the second period by firing a shot by Allen from the point. That came on the power play and was Ottawa’s first goal at home since 6:08 of the first period against the Chicago Blackhawks on March 28. That ended a scoring drought at home of nearly 134 minutes … The assist Giroux picked up on Sanderson’s goal placed Giroux No. 55 all-time in the NHL, one ahead of former Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson, with 714 career helpers.

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A scrum between Senators and Devils players erupts at the end of the first period on Saturday night. Photo by Tony Caldwell /Postmedia


A turnover by Jakob Chychrun resulted in Ondrej Palat’s 11th of the season to give the Devils a 2-0 lead at 12:36 of the first period. Palat tipped Luke Hughes’ shot from the point through Forsberg’s five-hole … Imama made his presence felt by dropping the gloves with New Jersey’s Kurtis MacDermid at 5:20 of the first period. They were teammates in 2017-18 with the AHL’s Ontario Reign and had a chat during warmup … New Jersey’s Erik Haula opened the scoring by beating Forsberg on the second shot of the game. That was 20th time this season the Senators allowed a goal on the first or second shot. It’s an ugly stat and the third straight game it had happened … Tkachuk tried to fire up his bench after the goal by hitting Hughes and Nick DeSimone on the next shift.

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The changes in the Senators’ front office continued Saturday.

Steve Staois, the president of hockey operations and general manager, continued to make changes with the announcement that chief pro scout Rob Murphy and longtime pro scout Jim Clark had been relieved of their duties.

Murphy, who was in his second stint with Ottawa, is a former Senators player and has been scouting since 2007. Clark and Murphy are both well respected in their field, but they were brought in by former GM Pierre Dorion.

It’s expected there will be more changes to the Senators’ scouting staff before the NHL draft in June. Staios wants to put his stamp on the team, so he’ll bring in his own trusted advisors.

Since owner Michael Andlauer and Staios arrived in September, Dorion, head coach D.J. Smith and assistant coach Davis Payne have been fired, while goalie coach Zac Bierk was reassigned.

The search for a new head coach is underway, but Staios and senior vice-president Dave Poulin just added more work to their plate.

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