SENATORS (13-12-3) at DEVILS (13-12-1)
TV: SNET-OTT, TVA, MSG PLUS 2
LAST 10: Ottawa 5-3-2; New Jersey 5-5-0
Season Series: This is the first of four meetings in 2011-12. The Senators won three of four meetings last season, including a 3-1 triumph in the final matchup between the clubs on March 17. In that contest, Chris Neil scored twice and Jason Spezza had two assists. The teams will next meet in Ottawa on Jan. 2.
Big Story: New Jersey improved to 7-1 in games decided after regulation when David Clarkson scored 2:40 into overtime to give the Devils a 3-2 victory at Toronto on Tuesday night. The Devils are now 2-0 in overtime and 5-1 in shootouts. Clarkson, who hails from Toronto, scored a pair of goals to help the Devils snap a four-game losing streak. Clarkson probably heard plenty of cheers when he scored — he reportedly purchased more than 50 tickets for family and friends. The game against the Senators is the first of two straight home contests for New Jersey, which hosts Montreal on Saturday afternoon.
Senators: After winning five of their last seven games to close out November, the Senators have gone 1-2-1 to start December. Ottawa lost 5-3 to Washington on Wednesday as Nicklas Backstrom scored the first of three straight goals by the Capitals en route to rallying from a 2-1 deficit. Craig Anderson made 39 saves for Ottawa and Erik Condra, Nick Foligno and Milan Michalek scored goals.
Devils: In their overtime victory over the Maple Leafs, the Devils denied the home team on two power-play opportunities and have now killed their last 32 straight. The Devils rank first in the league with a 94.7 per cent efficiency on the penalty kill this season, having killed 90 of 95 opposing chances. Seeing that his team had scored just 10 goals in its last six games, coach Peter DeBoer broke up his second line against the Leafs, moving the struggling Mattias Tedenby alongside Patrik Elias and Petr Sykora. Dainius Zubrus was moved to left wing on a line with centre Ryan Carter and right wing Clarkson. Zubrus assisted on Clarkson's OT game-winner.
Who's Hot: Ottawa's Nick Foligno extended his point-scoring streak to five games on Wednesday with a goal in a loss to the Capitals. Foligno has three goals, six points and a plus-5 rating during the five-game stretch … The Devils' top line is rolling — centre Adam Henrique has a six-game point-scoring streak (two goals, five assists); left wing Zach Parise is riding a five-game point-scoring streak (one goal, five assists) and right wing Ilya Kovalchuk is on a five-game streak (three goals, three assists).
Injury Report: Defenceman Filip Kuba (upper body) and winger Nikita Filatov (broken nose) are questionable for Thursday's game, while Peter Regin (shoulder) has been on the IR since October … For the Devils, centre Travis Zajac (torn left Achilles tendon) and right wing Cam Janssen (chest contusion) won't play. Zajac actually began skating with the team on Wednesday. Jacob Josefson (collarbone) is out.
Stat Pack: Michalek scored his 17th goal of the season on Wednesday, putting him into a three-way tie for the league lead. He's just nine short of his career high of 26 goals.
Puck Drop: Zajac, who hasn't played all season after tearing his Achilles tendon during the summer, could be only a week or so from returning. He went full-speed at Wednesday's practice, with no restrictions. President Lou Lamoriello says he won't play Thursday or Saturday at home and probably will sit out the two-game trip to Florida early next week. That leaves the possibility he could dress on Dec. 16, when Dallas comes to Prudential Center.
"The legs felt great," he told the team's website after Wednesday's practice. "I knew going on the ice that wouldn't be my concern. It was more the timing, the hands, thinking and moving at the same time with the puck. That's what I was worried about and that's what I'll still have to get down. The legs felt great."