SENATORS (13-7-3) at BRUINS (12-8-5)
Read the NHL game notes for tonight's Ottawa-Boston matchup.
Last 10 – Ottawa 6-3-1; Boston 6-1-3
Season series – It's the second meeting of the season between Northeast Division rivals. Boston took the first one, 4-3 in a shootout, on Oct. 24. The Bruins trailed 3-1 with 1:28 left in regulation before Mark Recchi and David Krejci scored extra-attacker goals and then claimed the extra point in the shootout.
Big story – Despite having to work through key injuries, the Senators find themselves in a tie for first place in the division with the Bruins, each with 29 points. They come into Boston losers of five straight in TD Garden, though. The Bruins, with Milan Lucic sidelined yet again due to a high ankle sprain, had a four-game winning streak snapped Friday, losing 2-1 to the Devils in a shootout.
Senators – Whatever their record against the Bruins, the Senators have won five of six overall and five straight at home after their 2-1 win Thursday over the Blue Jackets at Scotiabank Place, improving their record there to 10-3-3. Now they go on a five-game road swing that also takes them to San Jose (Tuesday), Los Angeles (Thursday), Phoenix (Dec. 5) and Anaheim (Dec. 6).
"This is a big part of our season here. These are not easy teams we're playing and we're not too familiar with them, so if we can come out of this above .500 on the trip, we'll be setting ourselves up pretty good," centre Jason Spezza told the Canadian Press.
Bruins – It was a clash of two of the top three stingiest defences in the NHL when the Devils visited the Bruins on Friday afternoon, but Boston's four-game losing streak was stopped by Jersey and Martin Brodeur.
"It was one of those games where you had to fight for every inch," coach Claude Julien said. "I thought our four lines did a good job and at the end of the third period, we had a couple of real good chances that you hoped could have squeaked in there and got the winner."
Tuukka Rask played his sixth game in a row and matched Brodeur all the way to the shootout.
"It's unfortunate we scored only one goal two games in a row," center Marc Savard said. "We have to find it within ourselves to get to the net and get him some goals."
Who's hot – Milan Michalek has goals in four of his last six games and leads Ottawa with 11 this season ... Rask has responded to the heavy workload, going 4-0-1 in his last five starts with a 1.60 goals-against average and .949 save percentage.
Injury report – Defenceman Anton Volchenkov (right elbow) is close to returning to the lineup after missing 13 games but is still listed as "doubtful" for tonight, while centre Mike Fisher may be good to go as well after missing a pair of games with an undisclosed upper-body injury.
"Fisher is probable," Senators head coach Cory Clouston said after the pre-game skate earlier this morning. "I just want to make sure."
"We'll see how it is this afternoon, but I've made a lot of improvements," Fisher told the media.
Meanwhile, the Bruins will have to do without Lucic for another month after he sprained his left ankle in Wednesday's shootout win at Minnesota. He played just four games after returning from a broken finger and scored two goals in the last three.
Stat pack – Ottawa has lost 10 of its last 12 (2-8-2) against the Bruins. The Senators have been outscored 21-8 in their five straight road losses to the B's since a 3-2 win Dec. 18, 2007.
Puck drop – It looks like these two will be trading blows throughout the season as they battle for the top of the Northeast. But first the Sens will have to solve the Bruins on Garden ice.
Saturday update – Senators rookie defenceman Erik Karlsson, who was recalled from the Binghamton Senators (AHL) on Friday, will be in the lineup tonight.