SENATORS (16-18-4) at BLUE JACKETS (18-15-3)
TV — SNET-East (HD), FS-Ohio (HD)
Last 10 — Ottawa 4-4-2; Columbus 3-5-2
Season series — This is the first and only meeting of the season between the Sens and Blue Jackets. The teams last met in November 2009, with the Senators winning 2-1 at Ottawa on goals by Jason Spezza and Nick Foligno.
Big story — The Senators will look to avoid closing the month of December with a two-game losing streak after a 4-0 loss at home to Carolina on Wednesday. The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, bring a two-game winning streak back to Nationwide Arena after edging the Maple Leafs 3-2 at Toronto on Thursday.
Senators — The Jason Spezza-less Senators were shut out at home by the Hurricanes on Wednesday. Spezza is expected to miss at least four weeks after going down with a right shoulder injury in Sunday's 3-1 win against Pittsburgh.
Spezza "is a big piece of our puzzle here," forward Nick Foligno said. "It hurts not to have him in the lineup, but we know we have guys on this team that can get the job done."
| • News
• Ticket Info
|Dec. 31: Jim O'Brien Pre-Game - Fri, 31 Dec 2010|
|Dec. 31: Cory Clouston Pre-Game - Fri, 31 Dec 2010|
|Dec. 31: Gord Wilson's Game Preview - Fri, 31 Dec 2010|
|Dec. 30: Cory Clouston - Thu, 30 Dec 2010|
|Episode 13 - Look Ahead and Upcoming Games - Wed, 29 Dec 2010|
|Episode 13 - Top 5 Stories of 2010 - Wed, 29 Dec 2010|
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"We needed this," coach Scott Arniel said of the win in Toronto. "We're leaving on a big road trip out West. To get a rod win here kind of helps us a little bit in that direction."
Who's hot — Kristian Huselius is coming off an impressive two-goal effort against Toronto and will look to contribute with points in three straight games against the Sens … The Sens have benefited from the strong play of Chris Kelly, who has collected points in three of his past five games and has helped an otherwise struggling offensive unit.
Injury report — In addition to Spezza, goalie Pascal Leclaire is also still sidelined with a lower body injury. Columbus enters the game with a healthy lineup.
Stat pack — The Senators are one of four teams who have a defenseman leading the team in scoring, as Erik Karlsson leads the way with 23 points, one more than captain Daniel Alfredsson. Phoenix, Atlanta and Edmonton are the others.
Puck drop — Though he wasn't severely tested in Toronto, third-year Blue Jackets goaltender Steve Mason was solid in the win against the Leafs. Mason stopped 20 of 22 shots after turning aside 37 of 40 in a 4-3 shootout win against Minnesota on Monday. The Jackets are part of the mass of teams scrambling for a playoff berth in the West, and they need Mason to play like the Calder Trophy winner he was in 2008-09 if they hope to get into the top eight.
The Senators enter tonight's game in 10th spot in the Eastern Conference, six points shy of the final playoff position currently held by the Montreal Canadiens. Head coach Cory Clouston has shuffled his lineup for tonight's game, scratching veteran defenceman Filip Kuba and forward Jarkko Ruutu from the lineup. In their place are blueliner Brian Lee and Binghamton callup Jim O'Brien, who makes his NHL debut.