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Senators find road to success

After successful four-game trip, team aims to continue solid play at home

Monday, 11.3.2008 / 2:04 PM ET / Features
By Rob Brodie  -
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Senators find road to success
They unlocked a few keys to success away from the friendly confines of Scotiabank Place.

Now the Ottawa Senators hope to take a few more steps in the right direction in front of the home folks this week.

On the heels of a four-game road trip that produced five points in the standings and -- perhaps more importantly -- noticeably tighter defensive play, the Senators return to Scotiabank Place on Tuesday night to face the Washington Capitals (7:30 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet East, Team 1200). Then the Philadelphia Flyers arrive hit town on Thursday (7:30 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet East, Team 1200).

After dropping the opener of the trip in Toronto, the Senators notched back-to-back victories against the Buffalo Sabres and Florida Panthers before falling to the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 on Saturday night in shootout. While the five points were a boost to a team that had lost four straight beforehand, it's how they were gained that matters more.

"I think it was a big trip for us, to be honest," said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson. "We started playing a lot better the last three games on the trip. We played solid and we showed signs of being a real consistent team and giving ourselves a chance to win every night. I really like the way we played, so hopefully we can continue that at home with these two games."

Certainly, it was a step up from the play that produced a 1-4-0 record during a lengthy October homestand. The Senators surrendered an early goal in the last three of those games and couldn't recover, playing tentatively at times. But that all changed on the road trip.

"We weren't playing good hockey here and we were looking forward to getting on the road and sorting some things out," said centre Jason Spezza. "I think we've come back with a better focus and a better understanding of where we need to be as a team and what we have to do to be successful.

"Now we've got to worry about playing that simple game on home ice and not get worried if we let in a goal or two early. We didn't panic on the road and we can't have that panic at home, either."

For the Senators, the road success started right in front of goaltender Alex Auld, who'll make a fifth straight start tomorrow night.

"The trip was good for us to get that base and find an identity in our own end," said Auld. "I think we've been a lot more consistent with that and that's great."

Head coach Craig Hartsburg, naturally, wants to see more of that on home ice.

"We played well on the road, we had some success there," he said. "Now let's have that mindset here. It doesn't matter where we play or who we play, we've got to play the right way and play the game we know will give us a chance for success in this building."

Around the boards

Tuesday's game is Canadian Forces Appreciation Night, which is dedicated to troops currently deployed or having just returned from overseas missions. Fewer than 1,500 tickets remain for the game ... Only 1,750 tickets are left for Thursday's visit by the Flyers.




1 MTL 75 46 21 8 197 167 100
2 TBL 75 46 22 7 244 194 99
3 DET 73 39 22 12 212 201 90
4 OTT 73 37 25 11 213 195 85
5 BOS 74 36 25 13 195 193 85
6 FLA 74 34 26 14 184 202 82
7 TOR 75 27 42 6 194 241 60
8 BUF 74 20 46 8 141 249 48


E. Karlsson 73 19 40 10 59
B. Ryan 69 18 35 9 53
K. Turris 73 21 31 0 52
M. Stone 71 18 33 15 51
M. Hoffman 70 26 20 20 46
M. Zibanejad 71 19 24 3 43
M. Michalek 66 13 21 3 34
C. MacArthur 53 13 13 -10 26
A. Chiasson 67 11 15 -4 26
D. Legwand 71 9 17 3 26
A. Hammond 14 1 1 .938 1.92
C. Anderson 14 12 7 .925 2.44