A week ago, the Devils were riding high in first place in the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division after sweeping a home-and-home series with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

As they head into this afternoon's meeting with the Ottawa Senators at Prudential Center, however, they're back behind the Penguins in the standings – though with a game in hand – and trying to find what's been missing from their game over the last seven days.

Two losses in three games following a five-game winning streak isn't something to get overly alarmed about, but the Devils admit their level of play has dropped off after a dominant eight-day stretch in which they beat the Islanders (3-0), Rangers (3-1), Tampa Bay (4-2) and Pittsburgh twice (both 3-1 wins).

"We've lost a little bit of that edge you need and we've got to get that back," Devils coach Pete DeBoer said. "I think that was such a daunting week, you emotionally get yourself invested in that and then unfortunately there is a little bit of a drop. The key for us is to make that drop as [brief] as possible and get our game back to where it needs to be."

If anything, the last week was a reminder of the fine line the Devils skate on every night. They weren't sharp Tuesday against a Carolina team that was playing the second game of a back-to-back set, and they did just enough to keep it close before losing, 4-2. On Friday, they were sloppy in their own end in falling behind, 3-1, against Philadelphia before rallying for a 5-3 victory.

Similar breakdowns and a suddenly struggling penalty-kill doomed them, however, in a 5-1 loss to the Islanders on Saturday.

"I think it just makes us realize that we're not a team that's going to dominate every game," goaltender Martin Brodeur said. "We have to earn it. It just puts more emphasis on us to be accountable to the way we play every night. Nothing is going to come easy to us. It's just the way our team is made.