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The Ottawa Senators played one of their best defensive games of the season, but still felt short.

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Feb 2, 2019; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson (41) stares down Detroit Red Wings left wing Justin Abdelkader (8) following a save in the third period at the Canadian Tire Centre.Marc DesRosiers/USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

Jonathan Bernier stopped 35 shots for his first shutout of the season as the Detroit Red Wings defeated Ottawa 2-0 on Saturday night, even though the Senators gave up a season-low 21 shots.

“This one’s frustrating,” said Ottawa head coach Guy Boucher. “When you have 35 shots and you only give up 21 and you see your players’ hard work, it was a great improvement off Friday night, our execution, we created some nice plays and we did a lot of good things, but we weren’t able to produce.”

Danny DeKeyser and Darren Helm scored for Detroit (21-25-7), which won its third straight and its now 5-2-0 in its past seven games.

Overall the Red Wings felt they didn’t play their best game, but were pleased to see Bernier rewarded for a solid performance.

“We didn’t do a whole lot of things right, but we found a way to get the two points,” said defenceman Niklas Kronwall. “We didn’t play well enough, not even close to where it needs to be, but we got a great goaltending performance and that’s what made the difference.”

Craig Anderson had an unusually quiet night as he made 19 saves for the Senators (19-28-5).

Ottawa has lost its last two games since returning from a nine-day break and sit dead last in the league with 43 points.

“Not getting the results is frustrating, but I think we’re playing pretty good,” said Senators defenceman Dylan DeMelo. “Obviously, that first game back against Pittsburgh we were a little loose defensively, but I think (Saturday), against a pretty good offensive team and we kept them under 25 shots so we did a really good job of committing to that defensive game and we didn’t go out of sorts in order to cheat for offence or anything like that like we did against Pittsburgh.”

Both teams were playing the second half of a back-to-back as the Red Wings posted a 3-2 overtime win over Toronto, while Ottawa lost 5-3 to Pittsburgh.

The Senators looked to rally in the third, but Bernier was solid.

“I thought Bernier was real good,” said Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill. “They had a number of shots in the first and he was able to keep it out and I thought in the third when Bernier needed to make big saves he was real good. I’ve got lots of faith in Bernier.”

Ottawa thought they had scored late in the third, but it was waved off immediately.

Leading 2-0 to start the second the Red Wings had a great opportunity to extend their lead as Brady Tkachuk took a double minor for high sticking Luke Glendening. With 29 seconds remaining in the penalty Zack Smith took a tripping penalty, but Detroit was unable to take advantage of the power-play time.

The Senators had their own power play opportunity shortly after, but failed to ride the momentum of a solid penalty kill.

“It was huge for us not to dig ourselves into a bigger hole and guys did a great job of sacrificing and doing the job, but we just weren’t able to get that one goal to get us going,” said DeMelo. “It wasn’t lack of effort. You have to tip their hat to them, I think they did a really good job defensively and Bernier made some big saves.”

Detroit jumped out to a 2-0 first period scoring twice in 39 seconds.

DeKeyser opened the scoring with a shot just inside the blue line that made its way through traffic.

Seconds later. Detroit made it 2-0 as Helm and Martin Frk played a little give-and-go with Helm skating through the goal crease and tucking a backhand past Anderson.

Notes: The Senators recalled Rudolfs Balcers from their American Hockey League affiliate in Belleville, Ont., as Mikkel Boedker was injured in Friday’s game against Pittsburgh. Nick Paul was a healthy scratch for the Senators. Detroit was without Dylan Larkin as the Red Wings announced he had a strained oblique.

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