Bobby Butler had the chance to play hero against his former team.
With the New Jersey Devils needing a goal to stay alive in the shootout, Devils head coach Pete DeBoer called on the former Ottawa Senators right wing.
“It was just a gut (feeling),” DeBoer said. “He’s a motivated guy to play against them.”
Butler couldn’t convert, sending his attempt wide to give the Senators a 2-1 shootout win over the Devils at the Prudential Center. New Jersey has lost two straight games and three of its last four.
Jakob Silfverberg netted the shootout-winning goal, beating Martin Brodeur to the glove side in the second round. The Devils couldn’t solve Ben Bishop, who stopped all three shooters for his first win of the season. The two goalies both played well in regulation and overtime. Each stopped 29 shots.
Butler’s miss helped punctuate a frustrating afternoon for New Jersey. The Devils jumped ahead in the first two minutes of the game, but couldn’t extend the lead.
“Disappointed that we didn’t get both points,” Stephen Gionta said after the game. “I thought it’s a game we could have closed out, but we still got a point, which is huge. Any point is big, but you always want to get that second one.”
Gionta scored just 1:19 into the first period to give New Jersey the lead.
Steve Bernier stripped Erik Condra of the puck, skating to the slot and firing a shot on Bishop. The Senators goalie left a rebound that Gionta put in the back of the net for his second goal of the season.
The Devils couldn’t build momentum after that score. They recorded a season-high 17 shots in the first period, including nine on two power play opportunities. But they couldn’t find a way to add to their advantage.
“We had some opportunities to get the second goal at different points,” DeBoer said. “We let them hang around, and that’s what happened. I thought we could have had a couple early.”
Brodeur said after the first period, New Jersey allowed the Senators to “lull them to sleep.”
“When you play a team that has so many injuries, they’re going to play a simple hockey game,” he said. “It gets tough to play against that. They’re always the toughest team to play. You have to put them away early in games. If not, they stay around and it might cost you.”
The Devils had its chances to extend the lead in the middle period, but they couldn’t beat Bishop on a 2-on-1 at the 5:16 mark. The Senators goalie then made his best save of the game, shutting down a Patrik Elias one-timer from the slot at the just four minutes later.
Not to be outdone, Brodeur kept Ottawa off the scoreboard with a series of highlight-reel saves. The Devils goalie denied the Senators a power play goal in the first period, turning away Zach Smith with a sprawling pad save. He kept Ottawa off the scoreboard in the middle period as well, turning away a Kaspars Daugavins wrist shot from the slot.
Jim O’Brien made a game-changing stop for the Senators, sliding to block an Elias shot at the open net at the 5:47 mark of the third. Bishop turned the puck over behind his net, and Elias was open in the left circle. Stuck behind his net, Bishop had no chance to recover. O’Brien dove to stop the shot, keeping New Jersey’s lead at one.
“I think that’s where our mistakes lied tonight, in not finishing or extending that lead,” DeBoer said.
The inability to stretch the lead burned New Jersey in the third period when Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson tied the game at one. Kyle Turris kept the puck in at the point and found Silfverberg in the right corner. He waited for Alfredsson to get open, then sent a pass to the slot that the Senators captain converted for his fourth goal of the season.
“I saw it (the puck) just trickle (to the slot), and I got tangled up,” Brodeur said. “I don’t know if it was my stick and my glove or my stick and my pad. The only way I could (save it) was to jump forward, and he just had patience and shot it in.”
New Jersey failed to take advantage again in the shootout, with Ilya Kovalchuk and Elias missing in the first two rounds.
“He’s a big guy. We (Kovalchuk and Elias) both missed the shot,” the left wing said. “We were going to go high. We overplayed it. He just stood there, and right above his glove in the top corner was open. Just missed it.”
Silfverberg didn’t miss, beating Brodeur high to the glove-side in the second round.
“I thought I had it,” Brodeur said after the game. “I just kind of dipped my glove a little too low when he shot it. I read it pretty good. I just missed it.”
Butler admitted after the game he was surprised to get a chance in the shootout, and was disappointed with the outcome.
“I just tried to freeze him a little,” Butler said. “He’s a big guy, and he takes up a lot of the net. Just couldn’t squeeze on by him.”
With a two-game road trip against the Washington Capitals coming up, Brodeur acknowledged his team needs to put together a better effort.
“We’re going on a road trip here and its important we get back to the type of hockey we’re capable of playing,” Brodeur said. “We’re showing signs of it, but for whatever reason the 60 minute effort isn’t there as of late.”
Ryan Carter left the game in the second period after being sandwiched along the boards by Chris Neil and David Dziurzynski. The team announced he suffered an upper-body injury.
“There’s a couple of days to recover and figure it out,” he told the media after the game. “We’ll review with the doctors.”
Kovalchuk had his season-high six game point streak snapped in the loss.
Andrei Loktionov made his Devils debut. He recorded 9:28 on 14 shifts, finishing with no shots. He went 4-for-11 on faceoffs.