NEWARK, N.J. — Last season, New Jersey wasted plenty of leads. Now, even if they lose one, the Devils are fighting back.
Jesper Bratt and Drew Stafford scored in the shootout, goalie Keith Kinkaid made a big stop at the end and the Devils beat the Ottawa Senators 5-4 Friday night after blowing a two-goal lead in the final 1:15 of regulation.
“I think last year at the end of the year we were finding ways to lose games, and it’s that extra inch, extra play,” Devils forward Taylor Hall said after New Jersey improved to 7-2. “Stafford, we’re dead in the water in that shootout and he goes out and scores a big goal for us and keeps us alive. Keith can shut the door, so little things throughout the year you can pinpoint that maybe we’re a different team than last year.”
With the Devils trailing 1-0 in the shootout on Tom Pyatt’s goal for Ottawa, Stafford kept the Devils in it by netting a backhand on their third shootout chance.
After defenseman Erik Karlsson missed the net on the Senators’ third chance, Bratt totally faked out Mike Condon on the fourth attempt for the game-winner.
“I try to do a little bit of a shoulder fake, to make the goalie believe I was going to take a shot, so then I just go backhand,” Bratt said. “All the players have something that they work a little extra on so when it comes to a shootout you know exactly what you’re going to do.”
Condon said the moves by Stafford and Bratt were good ones.
“I guess I bit a little bit too hard on the first move,” Condon said of Bratt’s goal. “That’s the NHL. Everyone has three or four moves. If you don’t bite on the first one, he shoots it through you, and if you do, he goes around you.”
Kinkaid stopped Mike Hoffman on the Senators’ last try to give the Devils their second win over the Senators this season. In the first one, the Devils rallied from two goals down and won in overtime.
The Senators were happy with the point, especially playing their second game in two nights.
“We did a good job of coming back and getting that one point,” Karlsson said. “We had a few chances to end it and get that second one but it didn’t happen for us today. Overall, over the course of the two games, we didn’t play any beautiful hockey for all of it, but we did enough to get away with three of four points, and that’s the good part.”
Jimmy Hayes, Adam Henrique , Brian Gibbons and Damon Severson scored for New Jersey, which rallied from a 2-0 deficit with four straight goals.
Trailing 4-2 with less than two minutes to play, the Senators pulled their goaltender and tied the game on goals by Mark Stone and Christopher DiDomenico.
Stone got Ottawa within one by tapping a floating rebound behind Kinkaid with 1:15 to play. DiDomenico got his first career goal with 37 seconds left in regulation after being set up in close by Derick Brassard.
“Brass made an unbelievable play behind the net and I just swung at the puck, put it to the net and the next thing I know it was in the net,” DiDomenico said. “It was good to celebrate the tying goal. We worked so hard on a back-to-back and we never died out there. We never quit.”
Hoffman and Johnny Oduya also scored for Ottawa, which lost on the road for the first time in four games.
The Devils seemed in control when Gibbons broke a 2-all tie with a goal late in the second period and Severson snapped a 73-game goal drought with just under six minutes left in regulation.
NOTES: Play was stopped early in the second period when Stone inadvertently hit referee Brad Meier with a high stick. The official was not cut and stayed in the game. … Zack Smith returned to the lineup after missing three games with an injury and had an assist on Oduya’s goal. … Devils G Cory Schneider and forward Kyle Palmieri were out with lower-body injuries. … Ottawa D Chris Wideman was out after taking an illegal hit from Radko Gudas of the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night.
Senators: Host Montreal on Monday.
Devils: Host winless Arizona on Saturday.
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