A national tragedy put the Ottawa Senators’ winning streak on hold – and in a much different perspective.
Before facing the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night, the Senators will hold what figures to be an emotional tribute to honor the Canadian soldiers who lost their lives earlier this week.
Ottawa (4-1-0) had won four in a row before a scheduled meeting with Toronto on Wednesday was postponed because of shootings in the Canadian capital.
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Earlier that day, a gunman killed a soldier at Ottawa’s war memorial, then stormed Parliament before being shot dead. On Monday, a soldier was killed when a man drove a car into him at a federal building near Montreal.
While the Senators will make up their matchup with the Maple Leafs on Nov. 9, hockey has taken a backseat to the tragic events that have many Canadians seeking answers and comfort. Both the Canadiens and Maple Leafs will join Ottawa in a coordinated tribute prior to puck drop at all three venues Saturday night.
"As we continue to reflect on the tragic circumstances surrounding the deaths of two our country’s soldiers on Canadian soil, we do so with heavy hearts," Senators owner Eugene Melnyk said in a statement. "But what doesn’t break us, makes us stronger. Our country stands more united than ever and so does the entire NHL family.
"We are very pleased to join forces with the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs in coordinating a unique and special tribute prior our game on Saturday in honor and recognition of these two brave soldiers, their families and all members of our Canadian military."
Following the tribute, the Senators will regroup in an attempt to match their longest winning streak from 2013-14 – a five-game winning streak that concluded the regular season.
Ottawa, however, will need to contend with a long layoff. The Senators haven’t played since last Saturday, when Mike Hoffman put them up for good midway through the third period of a 3-2 win over Columbus.
Erik Karlsson scored on one of his seven shots in that contest, giving him one point in each of the past four games to tie Clarke MacArthur and Kyle Turris for the team lead.
Karlsson has 12 points in 11 meetings with New Jersey (3-2-2), accumulating eight in six at home.
The Devils have cooled considerably after a 3-0 start, losing four straight following Friday’s 3-2 shootout defeat to Dallas. They’ve lost an NHL-record 18 straight in the tiebreaker since a win over Winnipeg on March 10, 2013.
"You have to score," coach Pete DeBoer said. "We’ll just pick up and move on. I’m not concerned about it. I know we’re going to win some shootouts, so we’ll take the point and move on."
A switch in net could help. Top goaltender Cory Schneider has started every game so far, and he had a 2.00 goals-against average over the first three games before compiling a 3.65 mark in the past four.
He had 31 saves before Karlsson beat him for the decisive shootout goal in a 2-1 loss at Ottawa on April 10 – one of New Jersey’s three shootout defeats to the Senators during its record skid.
Backup Scott Clemmensen stopped six of seven shots in his only appearance this season, replacing Schneider in the third period of a 6-2 loss at Washington on Oct. 16.
Clemmensen has won his last two games against Ottawa, saving 72 of 75 shots for Florida.
Michael Cammalleri has been held without a point for two games after scoring five goals with two assists in his first five. The left wing has nine points over his past eight games against the Senators.