Brian Rolston had the lone goal while Martin Brodeur stopped 22-of-24 shots for the Devils, who had won seven of eight coming into the game.
“We played decent. We had our chances, we just didn’t score,” Devils head coach Jacques Lemaire said.
New Jersey, which at one point this season was the worst team in the league, has climbed back into the playoff chase, but the loss leaves the team six points back of Buffalo for the final spot.
The only goal of the first period came in the final minute on the power play as Jason Spezza’s blast from the top of the left circle was tipped in by Shannon for a 1-0 Ottawa lead.
McElhinney stopped 10 shots in the first and 11 in the second to keep the Devils off the board.
“It makes it easier to play with a lead,” McElhinney said.
Ottawa made it a 2-0 game 55 seconds into the third when a shot from Erik Karlsson at the right circle popped into the air and Neil banged it into the net from in front.
Rolston made it a one-goal game just over four minutes later on the power play when his blast from the high slot made its way through traffic.
But New Jersey was unable to get any closer and Neil sealed the win with an empty-netter in the final minute.
New Jersey hosts Washington on Friday…Ottawa hosts Tampa Bay on Saturday…The Senators won three of the four games with New Jersey this season…Both teams went 1-for-3 on the power play…Spezza had two assists in the game.
New Jersey will look to avoid another letdown against the Senators tonight at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa.
The Devils surprising second half run includes just two losses in their last 17 games. One of those losses, however, came at home to the last-place Senators only nine days ago.
In that game, rookie Eric Condra scored with 2:13 remaining to lead Ottawa to the 2-1 win. The rookie did all the damage, tallying both Senators goals.
The Devils haven't lost a season series to Ottawa since 2002-03 and are looking for a series split tonight.
New Jersey, winners of eight of their last nine road games, is looking to continue their drive to the playoffs. On January 8, the Devils sat in last place in the league, 27 points away from a playoff spot. Since then, they've gone 23-3-2 to move within six points of a playoff spot.
The Devils moved into 10th place in the Eastern Conference Tuesday night, beating the Atlanta Thrashers, 4-2. After falling behind, 2-0, in the first period, the Devils ripped off four straight goals. Rookie Jacob Josefson tallied the game-winner in the third period, and Ilya Kovalchuk iced the victory with an empty-net goal.
Devils' coach Jacques Lemaire indicated during yesterday's practice that Martin Brodeur will make his ninth consecutive start. Brodeur is 15-2-1 with a 1.76 goals-against average in his last 18 starts.
Ottawa will counter with Craig Anderson. The former Devils has won three straight against New Jersey and is 4-1-1 with a 2.27 goals-against average lifetime against them.
The Senators have struggled recently, allowing 11 goals in their past two goals. Their last loss, a 5-1 drubbing from the Pittsburgh Penguins, saw Ottawa outshot 41-22.
They also haven't been good on home ice, going 2-10-3 in their last 15 games at Scotiabank Place.
Lemaire believed he didn't need to remind his team about last week's loss.
"It will, but I don't think it needs to be because we knew when we played them that they were playing a lot better," he said to Tom Gulitti of The Bergen Record. "They'll be home with the fans and all of that and more excited."
Playoff Tracker 2011
Despite their recent run to the playoffs, the Devils still remain on the outside looking in. There's only one game on the schedule New Jersey fans should watch tonight.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Florida Panthers (7:30 PM, BankAtlantic Center) - The Maple Leafs, left for dead after losing earlier this week, are still making a push toward the playoffs. They currently sit in 10th place, just two points ahead of New Jersey. It's the second game of a back-to-back for the Maple Leafs tonight.