Jason Spezza played a large part in making sure the Ottawa Senators head into their home opener with some momentum.
The New Jersey Devils are looking for any sort of spark to end one of the worst starts in franchise history as the teams meet Thursday night.
Ottawa (2-2-2) managed just six points on its season-opening six-game road swing, but broke a four-game losing streak with a 4-3 overtime victory against Phoenix to close the trip Tuesday.
Cory Conacher scored in extra period after Spezza had rallied the Senators from a 2-0 second-period deficit with his fifth career hat trick.
"Felt good to contribute, felt good to score some goals and go home on a happy note," said Spezza, who has five goals and 21 assists in 27 career games against the Devils. "We got half the points, that's all that mattered. If you can get half the points on the road and be good at home, you should set yourself up.
"Hopefully we can put together some games, the guys are excited to play in front of the home fans and getting that two points gives us a little more confidence."
Coach Paul MacLean juggled his lines slightly at practice prior to the game, and it paid off as he flipped Conacher to the top line with Spezza and Milan Michalek. That pushed Bobby Ryan to the second line with Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur, and MacLean is hoping those top six forwards can continue to click while the Senators play six of their next eight at home.
"It's a good start at getting ourselves an identity and to work hard at it," he said. "We have to work at it and be more consistent at it."
Consistency - and offense - have been sorely lacking for the Devils (0-3-3) as they try to avoid a winless five-game trip through Canada. The franchise is without a victory through the first six games of a season for the first time since entering the NHL with five losses and one tie in 1974 as the Kansas City Scouts.
The Devils are mired in their worst skid since an eight-game slide March 30-April 15 effectively ended their playoff chances.
New Jersey has been idle since a 3-0 defeat at Winnipeg on Sunday, the second time this season it's been shut out.
"I think we know what we have to do to get it fixed, it's just going out and getting that job done," coach Peter DeBoer told the team's official website. "I don't think anybody's loose and happy about where we're at, but I don't sense that anybody's squeezing the stick ... I think we know what the answers are: It's getting the job done."
One area in which the Devils have failed to do that is on the power play, as they're 1 for 15 overall and have failed to convert their last 10 chances over three-plus games. They may get plenty of opportunities Thursday, as the Senators have had to kill at least four penalties in each of their six games and 31 overall.
The Senators swept all three games from the Devils last season, winning two via shootout. Craig Anderson made 33 saves in a 2-0 road victory April 12 in the most recent meeting while Martin Brodeur lost all three games despite yielding only five goals.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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