Senators aim to extend road streak against Ducks
SENATORS (27-16-6) at DUCKS (16-22-7)
TV: SNET-E, TVA, PRIME (HD)
Ottawa 8-1-1; Anaheim 6-3-1
This is the lone meeting between the teams that met in the 2007 Stanley Cup final. Anaheim has won three of the four matchups since defeating Ottawa in five games to claim the Cup. The past two meetings have gone to a shootout and the teams have split them.
Two surging teams will meet in Anaheim -- the Ducks are trying to rebound from a terrible start, while the Senators are continuing to prove their surprising first half wasn't a surprise.
Pre-season prognostications are often wrong, but it is pretty rare that the consensus about a team can be so far off like it was this season with the Senators. A self-described rebuilding club, Ottawa was picked to finish either last or close to last in the Eastern Conference by pretty much every media publication.
After a wildly inconsistent start to the season, the Senators have surged toward the top of the East. Ottawa is 13-2-2 since a loss Dec. 15 against Boston. If the Senators defeat the Ducks and the Bruins lose in regulation Saturday to the New York Rangers, Ottawa will be in first place in the Northeast Division and second in the East. The Senators have played more games than the other contenders, but they're also winning way more than anyone expected.
Today's game marks a milestone occasion for two Senators, with captain Daniel Alfredsson
playing his 1,100th career NHL game and forward Chris Neil
suiting up for No. 700. Both have spent their entire careers in Ottawa.
It was a bad start to the season for the Ducks, but that is nothing new in Anaheim. The difference from last season is the Ducks most likely took too long to recover. Anaheim is 6-0-1 since a loss Jan. 4 to San Jose, and the lone loss was a 1-0 overtime defeat.
The Ducks were 20 points back of eighth place in the West after the loss to the Sharks, but the current hot streak has them within 13 points with three games in hand. A favorable schedule between now and an eight-game road trip that starts Feb. 10 could leave Anaheim with a sliver of hope — not unlike what happened with the New Jersey Devils last season.
Who's Hot: Craig Anderson
did not start the first game of this run for Ottawa, but he's been in net for each of the past 16 contests. He's 10-1-1 since Dec. 30 with two shutouts and Anderson is currently working on a string of six straight starts with a save percentage of at least .943 … Secondary scoring was a huge problem for the Ducks earlier this season, but Jason Blake
's return from a severed tendon in his wrist has helped — he's got eight points in the past seven games while playing mostly on the team's third line.
Ottawa forwards Peter Regin
(shoulder) and Jesse Winchester
(concussion) are out indefinitely. Zack Smith
and Kaspars Daugavins
both left the game Thursday at San Jose with injuries, but took part in a team practice Friday and are expected to line up against the Ducks … Anaheim rookie forward Devante Smith-Pelly
is out with a broken rib that occurred in the World Junior Championship, and backup goaltender Dan Ellis
is out with a groin injury.
Stat Pack: Kyle Turris
has 13 points in 16 games since joining the Senators in a trade from the Phoenix Coyotes. He had 12 points in his final 39 games with the Coyotes … Corey Perry
helped carry the Ducks back into playoff contention last season with a monster second half. He's got seven goals in the past eight games.
""It's part of us putting blocks in our foundation and trying to learn how to win games. When you can do it in tough buildings like this, those are real, real solid blocks that you can put into your foundation. Tonight was a game where we really depended on our foundation and structure to get us through the game, and I thought as the game went on we established it more and more and it ended up being the difference." — Senators head coach Paul MacLean, after Thursday's 4-1 road triumph over the San Jose Sharks