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Apr 5, 2024 4:28 pm

Desperate Devils ‘not going to fold,’ visit Senators

tomas nosek senators

The New Jersey Devils aren’t where they had hoped or expected to be with six games left in the regular season.

On the outside of the playoff picture looking in with very slim chances, they’ll look to kick off the final stretch of the season on a high note when they visit the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.

The Devils (36-36-4, 76 points) were seven points out of the second wild card from the Eastern Conference, held by the New York Islanders entering Friday’s play. Their deficit could grow, with the Detroit Red Wings and Washington Capitals, who are each one point behind the Islanders, both in action Friday.

“We’re not going to fold, that’s not going to happen,” forward Tomas Nosek said. “Even if we don’t have a chance, we need to play every game 100 percent. Just focus on us and we’re good.”

New Jersey has lost three in a row. The Devils have held the lead in each, including a two-goal advantage in two of those games, only to see it erased and wind up empty-handed when the final horn sounds.

The Devils are 6-11-0 since March 1 and have been outscored 48-22 in those losses. They’ve allowed at least four goals in nine of the 11 defeats.

“Since I’ve taken over, from Day One, we’ve talked about what we want to be as a team and how we want to play, and having a winning mindset,” said Devils interim coach Travis Green, who replaced Lindy Ruff on March 4.

“A lot goes into being an everyday player and a team that wins consistently. We haven’t done that enough this season.”

Jesper Bratt and captain Nico Hischier have been pacing the offense of late. Bratt, who leads the team with 76 points, has nine points (three goals, six assists) in a six-game point streak. Hischier has seven points (two goals, five assists) in a four-game point streak.

The Senators (33-38-4, 70 points) will be looking to bounce back after a 6-0 loss to the Florida Panthers on Thursday, their second straight loss after a five-game winning streak.

“What confuses me is how we can play very well for five and a half, maybe six games,” Ottawa interim coach Jacques Martin said. “Then, we have a performance like (Thursday). That confuses me. It’s not the first time we’ve had a stretch where we’re playing really well and then we slip and take a step backward.”

Perhaps a meeting against the Devils will be what the doctor ordered for the Senators, who sit 14th in the Eastern Conference. It was two weeks ago that Ottawa skated away with a 5-2 win in New Jersey, a triumph that kicked off their recent winning streak.

“We need to figure out a few things, but we like the pieces in this locker room,” forward Claude Giroux said. “We feel like we’re a good hockey team, but we just need to be a little more consistent and things should be better next year.”

The Senators could get defenseman Thomas Chabot back in the lineup. The 27-year-old has missed the past four games with a lower-body injury sustained March 27 against the Buffalo Sabres.

“It feels really good,” Chabot said. “I’ve been skating a lot these past few days. We’re getting there.”

–Field Level Media

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