Butler Faces Sens for First Time as a Devil

Bobby Butler spent three seasons with the Ottawa Senators, breaking out for 21 points in 36 games during the 2010-11 season. A sophomore slump saw him score just six goals and total 16 points in 56 games. That led to the Senators buying out the final year of his contract, a move that led to his signing with the New Jersey Devils.

On Monday, he’ll have his chance to face his former team. Butler and the Devils will host Ottawa at the Prudential Center in the first meeting between the two teams this season.

Butler is looking forward to the matchup.

“It’s always fun to play against your former team,” Butler told Tom Gulitti of The Bergen Record after practice Sunday. “It definitely gives you a little more adrenaline to get pumping, I guess.”

In eight games this season, Butler has two points (1g, 1a) while skating on the team’s fourth line. Devils head coach Pete DeBoer has liked what Butler has brought to New Jersey.

“I think he’s handling his audition the right way,” he told Gulitti. “He’s bringing us energy. He’s helping us on the power play. He’s a guy who can put the puck in the net. You can see he has those instincts and that’s something we’re missing here, so he’s done a good job.”

New Jersey is looking to rebound from a 5-1 loss to the New York Islanders Saturday at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The Devils controlled the first period, firing 15 shots at Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov. But it would be New York who eventually broke through, scoring three goals in the second period. They added two more in the final period, sandwiched around a Marek Zidlicky power-play tally, to send the Devils to its second loss in the last three games. John Tavares recorded his fourth career hat trick, finishing with four points (3g, 1a). Matt Moulson also finished with a four-point night (1g, 3a).

Johan Hedberg, making his second start against the Islanders this season, stopped 28 shots. Nabokov finished with 30 saves.

Martin Brodeur will be back in net for New Jersey. The future Hall-of-Famer is 7-2-2 with a 2.42 goals-against-average, .907 save percentage and one shutout. He struggled against Ottawa last season, going 1-0-1 in three starts.

Ottawa started the season with three straight wins, but has slowed down in its last 12 games. The Senators have lost four of its last five games, and have just two wins in its last eight contests.

The Senators were blanked by the Toronto Maple Leafs, 3-0, Saturday at the Air Canada Centre. Frazer McLaren, Tyler Bozak and John-Michael Liles provided all the offense Ben Scrivens would need. The Leafs goalie turned aside 34 Senators shots for his first shutout of the season. Craig Anderson stopped 26 shots in the loss.

Ben Bishop will start for the Senators. He’s winless in two starts this season, posting a 3.03 goals-against average and .910 save percentage.

Kyle Turris leads Ottawa with 11 points (4g, 7a). He’s also the team leader in assists. Captain Daniel Alfredsson has eight points (3g, 5a). Ottawa’s offense received a devastating blow last week when defenseman Erik Karlsson, last year’s Norris Trophy winner, will suffered a cut to his left Achilles tendon in a loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. He’ll miss the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery. Ottawa is already without Jason Spezza. He underwent back surgery to fix a herniated disk, and will miss a significant portion of the season. He started the season with five points in the Senators first five games.

Milan Michalek will also miss today’s game. He’s out of the lineup with a sprained knee.

Here’s a look at last season’s matchup:

Last Season’s Matchup

December 8, 2011: Devils – 5, Senators – 4 (SO) @ Prudential Center

The two teams kicked off the four-game season series with a high scoring contest. Michalek and Nick Foligno scored in the first period, giving Ottawa the early lead and chasing Brodeur. Alfredsson stretched the lead to three, but New Jersey would respond. Zach Parise put the Devils on the board in the middle period, cutting into the Senators advantage. Then New Jersey took over in the third period,  with Dainius Zubrus, Mattias Tedenby and Ilya Kovalchuk scoring three unanswered goals to put the Devils ahead, 4-3. The Senators weren’t out of it yet. Jesse Winchester scored a shorthanded goal with just five seconds remaining in regulation, sending the game into overtime.

After a scoreless extra session, the two teams moved to the shootout. Both teams missed on their first chances, but then traded goals. Parise and Spezza scored in the second round, Patrik Elias and Alfredsson scored in the third, and Adam Henrique beat Alex Auld in the fourth round. Hedberg shut down David Rundblad to give New Jersey a shootout win.

Before being pulled, Brodeur stopped seven of nine shots. Hedberg, credited with the win, made 18 saves. Auld stopped 27 of 31 shots in the loss.

January 2, 2012: Senators – 3, Devils – 2 @ Scotiabank Place

Ottawa rebounded from the loss on home ice, beating New Jersey for its first win of the season series. The Devils jumped ahead this time, opening the scoring with second period goals from Zubrus and David Clarkson. The Senators responded in the final period, with Spezza and Erik Condra tying the game, 2-2, at the end of the regulation. In overtime, Alfredsson converted on a power play opportunity, netting the game-winner with just one minute remaining.

Brodeur, playing in the entire game, stopped 29 shots. Anderson, who recorded an assist on Spezza’s goal, made 27 saves.

March 20, 2012: Devils – 1, Senators – 0 @ Scotiabank Place

Hedberg defeated Ottawa for the second time in the season series, backstopping New Jersey to a split at Scotiabank Place. The Devils goalie stopped 34 shots to blank the Senators. Kovalchuk scored the only goal, converting on the power play in the second period. Bishop, making his only start against New Jersey, recorded 33 saves in the loss.

April 7, 2012: Devils – 4, Senators – 2 @ Prudential Center

New Jersey ended its regular season with six straight wins, the last coming against Ottawa on home ice. Matt Gilroy and Kovalchuk traded scores in the first period, sending the teams into the first intermission tied at one. Jim O’Brien and Petr Sykora did the same in the second, and the two teams entered the third period tied at two. Stephen Gionta broke the deadlock with the game-winning score just over the halfway point of the period. Kovalchuk iced the victory with an empty-net score.

Brodeur solved the Senators, earning his first win with a 31 save performance. Anderson also stopped 31 shots.


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