Tight-check­ing 3-0 vic­tory

The Peterborough Examiner - - SPORTS - Kwar­ren@post­media.com Twit­ter.com/ Ci­ti­zenkwar­ren

NEWARK, New Jersey — Let’s all go back to our pre-sea­son pre­dic­tions about how the Ottawa Sen­a­tors might achieve suc­cess.

We all had Dion Pha­neuf scor­ing four times as many power play goals as Erik Karls­son and we all had Mike Con­don post­ing five shutouts, right?

Bizarre as it seems, that is the way it looks af­ter Con­don and Pha­neuf led the Sen­a­tors to a tight-check­ing 3-0 vic­tory here over the New Jersey Devils Thurs­day.

With the vic­tory, played in front of a proud group of fa­thers, the Sen­a­tors are now four points be­hind Mon­treal for top spot in the At­lantic Di­vi­sion, with three games in hand.

Pha­neuf’s power play goal, with 1:59 re­main­ing in the se­cond pe­riod, broke a 0-0 dead­lock.

Karls­son padded the lead to 2-0 with 3:58 re­main­ing and Kyle Tur­ris put the game out of reach by scor­ing into an empty net with 1:37 on the clock.

Pha­neuf ’s goal was his se­cond in two games, his third in four games and his fourth power play of the sea­son. Re­mark­ably, Karls­son has but one power play goal.

While Pha­neuf and Karls­son took care of the of­fence, Con­don cleaned up busi­ness at the other end.

Mak­ing his first start since a 3-2 win over Dal­las on Feb. 9 — and his first since Craig An­der­son re­turned to ac­tion last week — Con­don stopped 21 shots. Con­don is now tied for fourth in the NHL in shutouts.

Be­tween him and An­der­son, the Sen­a­tors have nine blank­ings, se­cond in the league be­hind Wash­ing­ton.

Pha­neuf couldn’t have picked a bet­ter time to break the Sen­a­tors woe­ful stretch on the power play.

His slap­shot past Sch­nei­der broke a five-game, 0-for-13 drought with the man ad­van­tage, dat­ing back to a Feb. 2 game against Tampa. The Sen­a­tors had also only scored on the power play in one of their pre­vi­ous eight games.

Devils winger Mike Cam­mal­leri was feel­ing the shame, sit­ting in the penalty box for trip­ping Der­ick Bras­sard.

For the long­est time, it was a game cry­ing out for some­thing — any­thing — to hap­pen. Then again, it wasn’t en­tirely sur­pris­ing, ei­ther.

Both teams rec­og­nize their key to suc­cess is to play within a de­fen­sive struc­ture, not open­ing up.

The Devils came into the game with only 131 goals, last in the East­ern Con­fer­ence. The Sen­a­tors had scored only 141.

While the Sen­a­tors picked up the pace in the lat­ter stages of the se­cond pe­riod, nei­ther Sch­nei­der nor Con­don was over­worked.

Con­don’s big break came 15 sec­onds into the se­cond pe­riod when Beau Ben­nett’s slap­shot bounced off the post and stayed out. The Sen­a­tors goal­tender was also for­tu­nate that Adam Hen­rique shot high on a short­handed break­away fol­low­ing a bad Mike Hoff­man give­away.

Winger Py­att may well have saved a goal with an out­stand­ing backcheck to break up a 2-on-1 break.

The Sen­a­tors sported a dif­fer­ent look from the squad that suf­fered a 3-2 loss to Buf­falo at Cana­dian Tire Cen­tre Tues­day.

For one, Con­don was back in net, play­ing for the first time since a 3-2 vic­tory over Dal­las on Feb. 9 and for the first time since Craig An­der­son’s re­turn.

Cur­tis Lazar, who had been a healthy scratch for the pre­vi­ous four games, stepped into the lineup while Chris Neil took his turn sit­ting out. Lazar played pri­mar­ily on a fourth line with Tommy Win­gels and Chris Kelly, but he did also re­ceived an early look on a line with Kyle Tur­ris and Hoff­man.

On de­fence, Marc Methot was “sick”, ac­cord­ing to Sen­a­tors coach Guy Boucher, mean­ing that Fredrik Claes­son stepped into his spot as Karls­son’s de­fence part­ner.

The Devils en­tered the game amid the log jam of teams des­per­ately try­ing to gain ground in the fight for a wild card play­off spot – five teams and five points out.

New Jersey needs a spe­cial kind of run to make it and the Devils weren’t in any po­si­tion to take the Sen­a­tors lightly.

“They’re not un­der­rated from our room,” Devils coach John Hynes said. “This team has been very good, very con­sis­tent and that’s why they’re one of the top teams in the (East­ern) Con­fer­ence.”

The Devils out­shot the Sen­a­tors 8-7 in the score­less, tight-check­ing first.

Both Con­don and Sch­nei­der needed to make big saves on two on one breaks to keep the game score­less in the first pe­riod.

Sch­nei­der’s stop came off Hoff­man six min­utes in. Con­don’s save came off Kyle Palmieri with less than five min­utes re­main­ing.

The Sen­a­tors were sched­uled to leave New Jersey for Toronto im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing the game. The Sen­a­tors will con­clude their reg­u­lar sea­son se­ries against the Maple Leafs on Satur­day.

ELSA/GETTY

Ben Love­joy of the New Jersey Devils heads for the net as Tom Py­att and Dion Pha­neuf of the Ottawa Sen­a­tors de­fend on Thurs­day at Pru­den­tial Cen­ter in Newark, N.J.

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