Hoffman out as Senators face skidding Devils (Dec 17, 2016)

BY AP • December 16, 2016

OTTAWA -- The Ottawa Senators lost their first-line left winger and third-leading scorer when Mike Hoffman was suspended by the league for two games Friday afternoon.

Ottawa will be hoping a guy like Bobby Ryan can pick up the slack when the New Jersey Devils visit Canadian Tire Centre on Saturday night for the first of three games between the teams this season.

Hoffman, who has nine goals and 21 points in 28 games, was disciplined for cross-checking San Jose Sharks center Logan Couture in the back of the head Wednesday. That game also saw Ryan, a four-time 30-goal scorer, end a slump at 16 games with his fourth of the season.

"It was a big one I guess, it had been awhile," said Ryan, one of a number of players whose productivity has taken a hit under the system of coach Guy Boucher. "We're all frustrated by it, when you're not scoring, but I think you guys talk about it and write about it and put much more emphasis on it. I don't worry about it. As long as we're winning, I don't care. If I score one goal for the rest of the year and we make the playoffs, and make a run, I don't care one bit.

"That being said, you hope there's a domino effect and you can contribute."

While the Senators (16-11-3) have taken just three of the available 10 points from their last five games, Boucher was pleased with what he saw in the 4-3 shootout loss to the Sharks.

Mike Condon will get the start in goal again on Saturday, while the blue line will be bolstered by rugged Mark Borowiecki, the NHL's leader in hits who is coming off a two-game suspension of his own.

Meanwhile, the Devils (12-11-6) are also struggling to get some traction. Their 5-2 loss to St. Louis on Thursday was their fourth in a row, a span that has seen them outscored 19-5.

New Jersey's difficulties have come on the road, where it is 4-10-4 and the only team in the conference with double-digit losses as the visitors.

"It's a big concern, I mean we're here to win," said Devils goalie Cory Schneider. "We're here to win games and make the playoffs and be relevant here in the standings, and when you go on losing streaks it's hard to recover. It's really hard to play catch-up later in the year with three point games, playing against your division all the time.

"It's really difficult to make up ground, so we have to find a way to put the brakes on the skid and go on a streak of our own. It's tough to lose three, four, five in a row and survive after that."

Past history between the clubs favors the Devils, who were 3-0-0 versus Ottawa last season while outscoring the Senators 14-7. New Jersey has won its last three games at Canadian Tire Centre and is 6-2-1 against the Senators since the 2013-14 season.

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