Coming off their second loss in 17 games, the Ottawa Senators look to extend their unbeaten streak against the Carolina Hurricanes to 10 in a matchup of teams at opposite ends of the Eastern Conference.
Ottawa wasted a chance to move atop the conference standings by losing 5-2 to the New York Islanders on Monday afternoon.
The Senators, who remained one point behind Toronto and Philadelphia for the East's best record, came back from a two-goal deficit early in the third period only to give up three goals in the final 121/2 minutes.
"We got two quick ones in the first five minutes and kind of took control of the game right there," Ottawa center Bryan Smolinski said. "But it was just a bunch of mental mistakes that really cost us. It happens and you just have to learn from that."
Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, who scored his 18th goal, did not sound very discouraged after his team lost for just the second time since Dec. 6. Ottawa had lost just one of its previous 16 games (11-1-4).
"All year long we've done a good job coming back from behind. We never give up," Alfredsson said. "All in all it's a pretty good effort for us."
The Senators have given a good enough effort in recent matchups with Carolina to go unbeaten in this series since April 1, 2001 (7-0-3), including a 1-0-1 mark this season.
While Ottawa owns the third-most points in the East, Carolina has the third-fewest.
The Hurricanes were happy to come away with a 2-2 tie against the Senators on Jan. 11, but have since lost two of three, allowing 13 goals.
They fell 5-2 at home to Atlanta on Saturday despite a short-handed goal from rookie Eric Staal and a power-play goal by Aaron Ward. Carolina committed eight penalties that led to seven power plays for Atlanta, which scored twice in those opportunities and also had a short-handed tally.
"We were undisciplined in a lot of ways tonight," Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette said. "Specialty teams is just killing us, just killing us."
Laviolette's team ranks among the league's five worst on both the penalty kill and the power play. Ottawa is among the top 10 in both categories.
Carolina's offense, which has a league-low 86 goals, could get a boost with the debut of winger Justin Williams, acquired from Philadelphia on Tuesday for defenseman Danny Markov. Williams had six goals and 20 assists in 47 games this season for the Flyers.
"Based on the way our team has played to this point, we have to do something about changing the structure of our forwards," said Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford.