NEWARK, N.J. – Speedy Patrik Elias and the New Jersey Devils left the slumping Ottawa Senators way behind.
Elias had two goals and two assists to help the Devils beat the Senators 5-1 on Friday night. Elias has 11 goals and 27 points in the last 15 games.
“The team is playing well,” Elias said. “Sometimes you go through these streaks. We just have to keep it going. I’m having fun out there, making plays. When they go in, they go in. When they don’t, I’ll just keep working the same way.”
Devils coach Brent Sutter said Elias is using his speed to maximum advantage.
“He’s playing with a lot of confidence,” Sutter said. “He’s taken his game to a level that everybody would like to see. His work ethic has always been good. He’s moving his feet more. He’s doing things at top speed, and he’s reading situations so well.”
Elias wasn’t the only one enjoying a big night at the Senators’ expense.
Brian Gionta, Johnny Oduya and Travis Zajac also scored, and Scott Clemmensen, ably subbing for the injured Martin Brodeur, made 24 saves in the Devils’ 11th win in their last 14 games. Clemmensen, making his first career start against Ottawa, is 10-1-1 in his last 12 decisions.
Zach Parise was the key playmaker with four assists.
“It was a good effort by everybody tonight,” Parise said. “It was one of those nights where I was putting pucks on sticks and they were putting them in.”
Jarkko Ruutu scored for Ottawa. The Senators are 1-4-1 in their last six games.
“It’s about the attitude and having to work for everything we are going to get,” Senators coach Craig Hartsburg said. “I thought we worked harder tonight, but obviously, it’s not enough. We can’t accept it. We’ve got to keep pushing forward to get better.”
Gionta and Oduya gave New Jersey a 2-0 lead in the first period.
Gionta scored 40 seconds in, tipping Paul Martin’s point shot past Alex Auld.
Early goals have become a Devils’ specialty. It was the third straight game in which New Jersey scored in the first two minutes, setting a team record.
Oduya scored on a power play at 14:28. Parise had the puck deep in the Ottawa zone when he spotted Oduya charging the net from the left point. Parise threaded a well-timed pass to the onrushing Oduya for the score.
Elias got the second assist on both goals, extending his points streak to nine games. It also was his 169th multi-point game, tying John MacLean’s team record.
The Senators, mired in an offensive slump, got a second-period goal from an unlikely source: Ruutu. His short-handed tally at 8:37 was only Ottawa’s fifth goal in the last five games. In desperation, Hartsburg broke up his big line of Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley. It didn’t help.
“We struggled early on in the first period,” Alfredsson said. “We didn’t move the puck well at all. We got better as it went on. We were working really hard but obviously we’re not getting any bounces. The effort was there. With the puck, we’re not good enough.”
The Devils reclaimed the two-goal lead at 3-1 in the closing seconds of the period when Elias knocked in Parise’s rebound for New Jersey’s second power-play score.
Zajac scored at 12:09 of the third before Elias’ closed it out with his second at 14:39 as the Devils opened a 5-1 lead on their third power-play goal of the game.
Notes: Clemmensen’s only previous appearance against the Senators came in relief of Martin Brodeur on Oct. 21, 2006, giving up two goals in an 8-1 loss. … The Devils lost one and gained one on the blue-line. Bryce Salvador missed the game because of an upper-body injury sustained Wednesday in the Devils’ 5-3 win in Buffalo. Andy Greene, sidelined since Oct. 29 by a broken right hand, took Salvador’s place. John Madden also was scratched. The Devils reported that he was “ill.” … The Ottawa scratches were Jesse Winchester (upper body injury) and Ilya Zubov (an expired travel visa that kept him in Canada). … Auld was back in goal for Ottawa after Martin Gerber started three of the last four, including the last two. Auld is 0-4-0 against New Jersey.