Martin Brodeur, who missed the past eight games with a bruised right elbow, got his first start for the New Jersey Devils since Nov. 18 on Friday night when New Jersey closed out a three-game road trip against the Ottawa Senators.
The Devils lost their fourth straight game, 3-2 to the Senators, and have already had four losing streaks of at least three games this season.
"It's more of the same for us," Brodeur said. "We could cry all about it all we want but we're the ones playing the game and we put ourselves in the situation that we need breaks all the time. If we played well right from the get-go it would have been a lot different."
Brodeur made 26 saves and notched his first assist of the season and 35th of his career on Patrik Elias' power-play goal in the second, but it wasn't enough.
"I've been 100 percent for a while," Brodeur told the team's official site before the game. "Just now, with three hard practices in a row, I should have shaken off all the cobwebs that I need to shake. I'm good to go, that's for sure."
Brodeur's elbow was injured by Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane's shot Nov. 3. An MRI exam was negative. He played for two more weeks before taking himself out after the second period of a Nov. 18 game against Toronto.
Johan Hedberg went 3-4-0 with a 1.96 goals-against average, but the the Devils were hoping the return of Brodeur, who was 6-1-0 with a 2.06 GAA in his past seven starts against Ottawa before Friday, would give New Jersey (8-18-2) a boost.
However, Brodeur fell to 4-11-1 with a 2.76 GAA and .901 save percentage with two shutouts this season overall.
The Devils are second-to-last in the Eastern Conference with 18 points and have lost seven straight road games.
"You're more at peace when you're hurt and the team's doing well, because you always want to be a part of something good," Brodeur said before Friday's loss. "When you see guys struggling, you'd like to be there to try and help."
Ilya Kovalchuk is a minus-18, with as many penalty minutes (13) as points (13). Kovalchuk has two goals and seven points in his past 19 games.
Through 27 games in 2009-10, he had 35 points, including 19 goals and 16 assists. The Devils have scored eight goals in losing five of six.
"Marty's a world-class goalie," Devils coach John MacLean said Friday before the game. "Of course he's going to make a difference. He looks good in practice and I'm sure he'll be ready to go. He's a great goalie, so definitely he's going to make a difference. We're confident in his play and then we have to also play well in front of him and put some goals up there for him."
The Devils haven't won on the road since beating Chicago 5-3 on Nov. 3, and they have lost an NHL-worst 12 games away from home.
Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.