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Cup final rematch for Senators

Monday, 03.3.2008 / 2:10 PM ET / Features
By Rob Brodie  -
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Cup final rematch for Senators
The last time they squared off at the Honda Center, the stakes couldn’t have been any higher.

And there will be a certain level of importance again Monday night, when the Ottawa Senators face off against the Anaheim Ducks (10 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200) in the opener of a four-game western road trip.

It’s the first meeting between the teams since June 6, 2007, the night the Ducks beat the Senators 6-2 to finish off the Stanley Cup final in five games. While neither team currently leads its conference, both are considered strong contenders to get back to the league’s championship series again this spring.

But for Senators head coach/general manager Bryan Murray, tonight isn’t about avenging last season’s Cup final loss. Rather, it’s an opportunity for his team to continue getting its game in order for the playoff chase to come.

“That’s last year,” said Murray. “They’re now a team climbing in the standings and again, they’re going to be a serious contender. So sure, there’s motivation in that. But there’s motivation in every game now, I hope.

“We’ve got a tough road trip here. We’ve got a tough finish to the year. We’ve just got to set up for each individual game and play well.”

Still, there would be a bit of satisfaction gained tonight in beating the team that ended the Senators’ season a year ago.

“We would definitely like to beat them, there’s no question,” said captain Daniel Alfredsson. “We know they’re playing really well now. It’s going to be a good test for us. Obviously, you can’t bring it up to the intensity you had in the playoffs, but I think it will be as close as you can (get it).”

The Senators picked up the intensity in a major way during Saturday’s emotional 5-4 triumph over the Pittsburgh Penguins, which ended a three-game losing streak. Murray hopes that victory is a springboard for better things in the games ahead.

“The games going forward now, they all have to be (played) at a high level,” he said. “All I hope is that we continue to play better  … I liked some of the things I saw (Saturday).”

But more will be required, no doubt, against the Ducks, the hottest team in the National Hockey League. They’re on a 10-1-0 run since veteran forward Teemu Selanne rejoined the team. Goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere has regained his top form, going 8-1-0 with a 1.44 goals-against average in recent weeks.

“It’s a nice measuring game,” said Murray. “We know they’re playing terrific right now, so it’s a nice game to see where we fit, no doubt about that.”

A victory could also vault the Senators back into top spot in both the Eastern Conference and Northeast Division standings. Right now, Ottawa stands second in the division (behind Montreal, which plays the Sharks in San Jose tonight) and ranks fifth in the conference with 80 points (37-23-6), but is a mere one point behind the Canadiens and Penguins and is dead even with the New Jersey Devils. The Boston Bruins and New York Rangers are lurking another four points back.

It simply couldn’t be much tighter.

“Everybody’s in the race, and you have to play accordingly if you’re going to make the playoffs, let alone go anywhere in the playoffs,” said Murray.

Around the boards

Martin Gerber (24-11-2) makes his second straight start in goal, facing the team that drafted him into the NHL … Big blueliner Chris Pronger (broken jaw) won’t be in the lineup for the Ducks tonight … It’s the first regular-season meeting between the teams since Jan. 19, 2006, when Anaheim scored a 4-3 shootout triumph at Scotiabank Place … The Senators are in San Jose on Wednesday, in Los Angeles on Thursday and in Phoenix on Saturday to conclude the road swing.




1 x - MTL 77 47 22 8 203 174 102
2 x - TBL 78 47 24 7 250 204 101
3 DET 76 40 23 13 221 208 93
4 BOS 77 39 25 13 204 198 91
5 OTT 76 38 26 12 220 204 88
6 FLA 77 35 27 15 192 210 85
7 TOR 77 29 42 6 201 245 64
8 BUF 76 21 47 8 148 255 50


E. Karlsson 76 20 42 7 62
K. Turris 76 22 33 -2 55
M. Stone 74 19 35 13 54
B. Ryan 72 18 35 8 53
M. Hoffman 73 26 21 18 47
M. Zibanejad 74 19 24 0 43
M. Michalek 66 13 21 3 34
C. MacArthur 56 14 14 -11 28
D. Legwand 74 9 18 2 27
A. Chiasson 70 11 15 -4 26
C. Anderson 14 13 8 .923 2.49
R. Lehner 9 12 3 .905 3.02