NEWARK, N.J. -- New arena, same result for the New Jersey Devils.
The Ottawa Senators spoiled the Devils' first game in the new Prudential Center, scoring three times in the third period in a 4-1 victory Saturday.
Brian Gionta scored on a deflection for the Devils, who played their first nine games on the road while waiting for the $380 million arena to be completed.
New Jersey, the defending Atlantic Division champion, won three of those games and continued to struggle Saturday night against Ottawa (9-1), which owns the NHL's best record.
"We need to start figuring out ways to win games," Gionta said. "There's no excuses: road trip, new arena; we've just got to win. We're not playing 60 minutes. That's the theme of the first 10 games."
The Devils dominated for long stretches in the first 20 minutes and outshot the Senators 18-5, but goalie Martin Gerber was equal to the task.
"They had a great first period, but Gerber kept us in the game and we grew into the game in the second and third," said Ottawa's Daniel Alfredsson. "We knew they wanted to win this one."
Gerber made 31 saves for Ottawa, while Martin Brodeur stopped 23 shots for New Jersey.
Ottawa snapped a 1-all tie early in the third period when Chris Kelly picked up a loose puck behind the net and fed Shean Donovan, who beat Brodeur from in close. Mike Fisher added an insurance goal with 6:26 left, and Daniel Alfredsson scored into an empty net with 1.1 seconds left.
"We had opportunities, but we just didn't bear down," first-year Devils coach Brent Sutter said. "When you're having trouble scoring, getting that first goal is big."
Sutter publicly called out left wing Patrik Elias after Thursday night's 2-0 loss to the New York Rangers, and after Saturday's game he again questioned his players' effort, though he didn't name names.
"We've got a new group of players in that locker room who are adjusting to how we want them to play," he said. "And those players who've been here in the past, they've got to find a way to do better. I'm tired of all the excuses."
For a while it looked as though the new 32-foot, 65,000-pound scoreboard wouldn't get much of a workout as neither team scored in the first period.
Ottawa's Andrej Meszaros scored the arena's first goal five minutes into the second period with a slap shot from just inside the blue line that squeezed through a crowd in front to beat Brodeur.
The goal brought a smattering of boos from the restless crowd, but those turned to cheers 9 minutes later when Gionta tied it.
The power-play goal was the first allowed on the road by the Senators this season. Entering the evening, they were 16-for-16 killing penalties.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman joined Devils chairman and owner Jeff Vanderbeek, Mayor Cory A. Booker and former Devils star Scott Stevens for a pregame ceremony at center ice.
Talking to reporters later, Bettman called the Prudential Center "a truly spectacular arena" and then took a dig at the Devils' former home at the Meadowlands, calling it "a building with no soul that was in the middle of a parking lot."
With the new building not projected to be ready for the start of the NHL season, the Devils started the season on the road, losing six of the nine games and being shut out three times.
The road trip matched the longest in NHL history to start a season, tying Quebec (1980-81) and Carolina (1999-2000), both of whom were also moving into new facilities.
The Devils played the past 25 years at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, about 12 miles from Newark.
|It's a beautiful new arena, but no celebration for New Jersey fans in the first game. (AP)|
|Ottawa (9-1-0) «||0||1||3||4|
|New Jersey (3-6-1)||0||1||0||1|
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|05:01||Andrej Meszaros (2), Slap Shot. Assist: Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley|
|14:00||Power Play - Brian Gionta (3), Slap Shot. Assist: Patrik Elias, Paul Martin|
|06:40||Shean Donovan (2), Slap Shot. Assist: Chris Kelly, Antoine Vermette|
|13:34||Power Play - Mike Fisher (3), Slap Shot. Assist: Christoph Schubert, Patrick Eaves|
|19:58||Short - Daniel Alfredsson (7), Empty Net. Assist: Chris Phillips|
|54.0||Heatley, 2 min, Cross Check|
|09:43||Zajac, 2 min, Hooking|
|13:22||Heatley, 2 min, Slashing|
|15:56||Greene, 2 min, Roughing|
|11:52||Vishnevski, 2 min, Holding|
|18:37||Fisher, 2 min, Holding|
|SHOTS ON GOAL|
|Attendance - 17625|
|Referees - Rob Martell, Ian Walsh|
|Linesmen - Steve Miller, Jean Morin|