Published January 02, 2012
| Sports Network
The New Jersey Devils ended December with nine wins in 12 games and they'll try to keep things headed in the right direction when they kick off the New Year tonight at Ottawa's Scotiabank Place.
The Devils last played on New Year's Eve against the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins and notched a 3-1 victory over their Atlantic Division rivals. It was the second straight win for New Jersey, which also won by a 3-1 score at home against Buffalo on Wednesday.
The Senators will also take aim at a third straight win tonight and are 5-1-1 over their last seven games. Ottawa won its last two games after regulation, downing visiting Calgary in overtime on Friday before besting the Sabres in a shootout in Buffalo on New Year's Eve.
Ilya Kovalchuk supplied the offense for New Jersey in its win over the Penguins, as the Russian star recorded a goal and two assists.
Beginning tonight, the Devils will play five of their next seven games on the road. New Jersey, which will host Boston and Florida on Wednesday and Friday, respectively, is 11-9-0 as the visiting team this season.
The Senators are coming off a 3-2 win over the Sabres, as Bobby Butler scored in the fifth round of the shootout to lift Ottawa past its Northeast Division rivals. Chris Neil and Matt Carkner scored for the Senators, who got 26 saves from Craig Anderson.
In the shootout, Butler deked a few times before lifting a wrister past the pads of Enroth for the game-winner after Anderson stopped a Drew Stafford wrister on Buffalo's final attempt.
"After hitting a couple of posts tonight it felt good to get that one," said Butler. "Getting two points tonight is great for us, we need all the points we can get."
The Devils and Senators enter tonight tied in the Eastern Conference at 43 points. Winnipeg is also knotted in the three-way tie for the final three playoff spots in the East.
New Jersey recorded a 5-4 shootout win over a visiting Senators' club on Dec. 8, but Ottawa has still won four of the last six meetings between the teams. The Sens have also taken three straight encounters in Ottawa.
Ottawa is 11-8-1 as the host this year and is beginning a two-game homestand tonight.
In injury news, Ottawa defenseman Sergei Gonchar is questionable for tonight after sitting out the last game with a head injury. Gonchar was hit in the head with puck during pregame warmups on Saturday and was scratched from the game.
Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov suffered a lower body injury in Saturday's win and is questionable for this evening's game.