Thursday, December 1 2022

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Devils 4, Senators 3 (OT)

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NEWARK, New Jersey — The Ottawa Senators found another way to taste defeat here late Thursday.

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This time it’s thanks to the hands – and feet – of New Jersey Devils relief goaltender Akira Schmid, who was spectacular in extending the Senators’ losing streak to seven games.

In the end, Nico Hischier scored the winner on the power play with 32.1 seconds left in overtime — his second goal of the game — to give the Devils their 4-3 win.

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While all is well for the Devils during their eight-game winning streak, the Senators can’t find a way to escape the misery of a losing spiral. There was slight consolation in delivering a strong third period and scoring a point by extending the game into overtime, but that did little to erase the gloomy mood.

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No one could have predicted how the latest defeat would turn out. Spurred on midway through the third period when starting goaltender Vitek Vanecek left the game, Schmid stole the game from the Senators earlier in overtime. He robbed Brady Tkachuk and Alex DeBrincat of what looked like safe runs when the Senators took advantage of the power play earlier in the extra session. Five of Schmid’s seven saves have come in overtime.

“We had every chance to win the game. We had a good third period, our power had every chance (in overtime). Their guy made the saves, we got a penalty and they scored,” Senators coach DJ Smith said.

“Personally, I had two good shots to end the game and I needed to step up and I couldn’t find a way,” Senators captain Brady Tkachuk said.

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And with that, the dark losing streak continues.

Hot Senators rookie Shane Pinto gave the Senators an extension. Pinto tied it 3-3 early in the third with his second of the game and his eighth of the season, the best among NHL rookies.

What made it extra special was the fact that it had a group of 40-50 family and friends in the stands. Pinto grew up in Franklin Square, New York, and the trip was his first NHL game at home.

Snuffed out by the Devils for most of the second period, Pinto’s third-period goal gave the Senators a spark. They started coming to New Jersey for a long stretch in the third period.

They also thought they could have taken a huge break when Vanecek left. Schmid had other ideas, responding to the challenge with his spectacular overtime saves.

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The Senators, looking for their first road win of the season, wouldn’t have made it to overtime without the exceptional play of goaltender Anton Forsberg, especially in the second period. Forsberg was in his first action since losing 5-4 to the Vegas Golden Knights on Nov. 3.

“Every loss hurts,” said Forsberg, who faced 40 shots, including 21 in the second period.

The Devils led 3-2 heading into the third period thanks to Miles Wood’s goal at 2:53 of the second period.

The goal came after the Devils surrounded the Senators deep in their own end and the defensive duo of Erik Brannstrom and Nick Holden couldn’t handle the pressure of a strong forecheck. The Devils then came in wave after wave, pressing hard to put the game out of reach for the Senators.

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While Forsberg didn’t have the best first half, he was outstanding for the rest of the second, keeping his team in the game against the relentless attack. This included stopping a 3-on-2 in the final minute of the second period.

After Tuesday’s 6-4 loss to the Vancouver Canucks, Senators coach DJ Smith said the Senators might need a goalie to steal a game or get a break or two to put the crisis behind them.

As it turned out, Vanecek left the game at 10:37 of the third, a delayed reaction to his second-period collision with Thomas Chabot in the slot. As Chabot headed for the net, Vanecek came out to cut it. Chabot received a controversial goaltender interference call and Vanecek remained on the ice for several minutes.

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After receiving medical treatment on the ice, Vanecek stayed in the game, keeping Schmid on the bench. At least for now. With Devils number one goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood missing from the roster with an MCL injury, Schmid was recalled from Utica of the American Hockey League. Prior to playing the Senators, he was 0-4 with a 4.83 goals-against average and .833 save percentage during his NHL career.

Coming in, the Devils and Senators were heading in opposite directions.

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The Devils were the hottest team in the NHL. The Devils have now won eight games in a row, their longest winning streak since an eight-game streak between Feb. 6 and Feb. 22, 2011.

The Senators’ current seven-game streak is their longest since Jan. 16-Feb. 2, 2020, when they went nine games (0-8-1) with one win while playing in the All-Canadian division. During that streak, the Senators went seven games without scoring a point.

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The Senators are now 0-5-1 on the road this season.

The way Smith was talking before the puck dropped, the Senators had to use the situation to their advantage, rally for respect.

“Obviously you’re the underdog,” he said. “People step on us and push us when we’re down. This is the perfect time to pull together for a win and beat one against a really good team.

The sloppy first period presented a mix of good and bad for the Senators.

The Devils got the early jump when Tatar’s shot deflected Parker Kelly past Forsberg, but the Senators fought back.

First it was Pinto, tapping a pass from Claude Giroux behind Vanecek on a Senators power play for his first of the night. With the assist, Giroux now has points in seven straight games.

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The Senators then took the lead when Hamonic stepped in from the blue line and fired a shot past Vanecek. Hamonic has scored in consecutive matches.

Once again, however, the Senators’ late-period jitters reappeared. Hamonic was caught in the middle at the blue line – unsure for a split second whether to bet on the puck clearance or hang back. He chose the latter, allowing the Devils to break 2-1 and Hischier fired a shot past Forsberg with 1:54 left in the former, tying the game 2-2.

The Senators hopped on the bus after the game, heading to Philadelphia to prepare for Saturday morning against the Flyers, where Giroux will be honored at a pre-game ceremony for his 15 years with the franchise.

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  1. Ottawa Senators great Chris Neil waves to fans after the club announced Tuesday night that it would retire its No. 25 jersey. The ceremony will take place Feb. 17 during a home game against Chicago.

    GARRIOCH: Chris Neil’s #25 jersey to be retired by Ottawa Senators in February

  2. Goalkeeper Magnus Hellberg

    WARREN’S PIECE: Hellberg leaves, Zaitsev stays, Brassard rises and Brodeur’s role grows

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