Senators take aim at sweep of Rangers
Thursday, 12.09.2010 / 7:30 PM
RANGERS (16-12-1) at SENATORS (12-15-2)
TV — MSG (HD), SNET-O (HD)
Last 10 —
New York 6-4-0; Ottawa 3-6-1
Season series —
This is the second of four meetings between these two teams. The Senators took the first game at Madison Square Garden this past Sunday with a 3-1 victory as Chris Kelly
notched his first career hat trick.
Big story —
There are a number of streaks on the line Thursday as New York attempts to extend its road winning streak to four games, while the Senators hope to end their current three-game home losing skid. Ottawa has also dropped its last three home games to the Rangers, dating back to the 2008-09 season.
While New York holds a firm grip on the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 33 points through 29 games played and is tied for the NHL lead with 10 road victories this season, it's truly been a season marked by inconsistency. It seems as if any time the Blueshirts show a glimmer of a hot streak coming on, they quickly come crashing right back down. In fact, the Rangers only have two three-game winning streaks to speak of this season.
Sens Blog Central
It has been that exact type of up-and-down play which has led head coach John Tortorella to reassess his players and juggle lines as he sees fit. At Tuesday's practice, Tortorella placed rookie Derek Stepan at center between veterans Marian Gaborik and Ruslan Fedotenko and, according to newyorkrangers.com reporter Jim Cerny, it might be this same line combination that will skate at Ottawa on Thursday.
"Stepan is probably our best play-making center," Tortorella said. "He sees the ice and he's a good player in all situations. It's really exciting, for me, to watch him do the things he does."
Much like its opponents on Thursday, Ottawa has struggled to find its groove this season. Besides a four-game winning streak to open up the month of November, the Sens have won two in a row just once this season. A reason for the recent rough patch is certainly the Sens' lack of scoring as they have totalled just five goals while going 1-3-1 in their last five games.
Things appeared to be looking up for the Senators on Tuesday as they entered the third period at the rival Montreal Canadiens knotted at one, but then the game quickly slipped away with three unanswered Habs goals.
"They're such a strong team when you let them get going, and that seemed to be the case tonight," forward Nick Foligno
said. "We just kind of let them gain too much momentum, and they took advantage of it."
Who's hot —
The Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist has won four straight at Scotiabank Place with a 0.98 goals-against average over that span … For Ottawa, there really haven't been many hot performances other than Kelly's hat trick at the Rangers on Sunday.
Injury report —
New York is still without forwards Chris Drury (broken finger) and Vinny Prospal (knee), who are both on injured reserve.
Stat pack —
The power play has been quite stagnant for the Senators recently as they are 4-for-30 in the last 14 games.
Puck drop —
The Rangers were sluggish in the first period against Ottawa on Sunday and it was that type of slow start that contributed to the 3-1 loss. However, the Blueshirts are fully aware that they'll need to play 60 minutes of quality hockey on Thursday.
"I can't put my finger on one reason why we started like that," alternate captain Ryan Callahan told the team's website following the game. "Unfortunately we did, and we can't have that. We have to learn from it, correct it and move forward so that it doesn't happen again."