Travis Zajac had a goal and three assists, Kyle Palmieri scored twice, and the New Jersey Devils had five goals in the first period in a 6-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night.
Joseph Blandisi scored his first NHL goal and had two assists. Lee Stempniak and Adam Henrique also scored to help the Devils win their third straight and improve to 6-1-1 in their last eight games against the Senators.
Cory Schneider stopped 29 shots for New Jersey.
Mika Zibanejad, Mike Hoffman and Cody Ceci scored for Ottawa, which had won two straight.
The game was a battle of teams battling for a playoff spot.
New Jersey started the night as the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of Ottawa and Montreal.
The Devils responded to the challenge while the Senators came out flat.
When the ice chips settled, New Jersey had a 5-0 lead after one period. It was the Devils' biggest outburst in a period this season.
Zajac paced the opening-period barrage with a goal – his first in 28 games – and the three assists.
Even the Devils' dormant power play – without a goal in the previous eight games – came alive.
Blandisi started it with a power-play tally at 6:53. The rookie tipped a point shot from David Schlemko past Craig Anderson.
Palmieri jammed home his own rebound only 64 seconds later to make it 2-0.
Palmieri connected again, this time on the power play, on a drive from the left circle with 8:37 left. It was his 20th this season, the first time the New Jersey native reached that plateau.
Zajac ended his goal-scoring drought, slamming home a setup from Blandisi with 6:04 to go to push the lead to 4-0, and chase Anderson to the bench after facing only seven shots.
Stempniak closed out the first-period scoring on a semi-breakaway, beating Andrew Hammond with 2:36 left.
The line of Blandisi, Zajac and Palmieri combined for 10 points as the Devils skated off to a standing ovation from the fans at the Prudential Center after the opening 20 minutes.
With the damage already done, the Senators played much better in the second period, getting the goal from Zibanejad at 7:30 while outshooting the Devils 13-3.
Hoffman got his team-leading 21st goal with 3:55 remaining on the power play to cut the Devils lead to 5-2.
Then it became a contest when Ceci connected with 2:46 left to trim the Devils lead to two.
Henrique closed out the scoring with an empty-netter in the closing seconds.
NOTES: Ottawa concluded a season-high five-game road trip. ... This was New Jersey's final home game before the All-Star break. ... The Devils activated C Jacob Josefson, sidelined since Dec. 26 with a foot injury. ... New Jersey's scratches were LW Stefan Matteau, LW Bobby Farnham and C Tyler Kennedy. ... Ottawa scratched D Marc Methot, C Kyle Turris and LW Matt Puempel. ... Turris had played in 307 consecutive games, second highest streak in club history. Chris Phillips holds the mark with 311 straight appearances. ... The four-point period by Zajac was the first by a Devil since Ilya Kovalchuk against Columbus on March 23, 2010. Zajac also joined Patrik Elias (2000) as the only Devils to notch four points in an opening period.