|PHI||1||0||1||(0 - 0)||2|
|OTT||1||1||1||(0 - 0)||3|
After losing four of five games to open the month, the Ottawa Senators appear to be back on track as they continue their quest for home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
The Senators are looking for a third straight victory when they host the last-place Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.
With 11 games to play, Ottawa (41-23-7) is trying to secure the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference by withstanding a charge from Pittsburgh.
Despite their recent slump, the Senators have done a good job protecting their position. They have earned points in 15 of their last 16 games, including six straight, by going 11-1-4.
Dany Heatley has recorded a point in each contest of that 16-game stretch, and Jason Spezza has a point in all 15 games he's played during that run. Both streaks were extended Thursday when Heatley assisted on Spezza's third-period goal in Ottawa's 5-2 win over the New York Islanders.
The Senators took a 2-0 lead early in the second period, then blew open the game with three goals in a 1:16 stretch early in the third, breaking the record for fastest three goals in team history.
"To be part of that is great," said Chris Neil, who started the record-breaking run with his 11th goal of the season. "We wanted to come out and play a solid game and for the most part, everyone stepped up and did their jobs."
After Saturday's matchup with Philadelphia, the Senators begin a four-game road trip against the streaking Penguins. Ottawa plays only three of its final 10 games at Scotiabank Place.
While the Senators prepare for their stretch run, Philadelphia (20-40-11) is the only Eastern Conference team that has been eliminated from playoff contention.
The Flyers, though, are not lying down. They are coming off a 3-2 win over Southeast Division-leading Atlanta on Thursday, thanks to a career-high three points from Stefan Ruzicka.
The 22-year-old winger broke a 1-1 tie in the second period with his second goal of the season, and Geoff Sanderson scored the game-winner early in the third as the Flyers avoided a third straight loss.
Ruzicka, one of many youngsters the Flyers have been trying out as the season winds down, had appeared in only one NHL game before this season.
"(Ruzicka) might be a better playmaker than he is a scorer," coach John Stevens told the team's official Web site. "He has a vision with the puck, he can hold the puck, and (Sanderson) is a shooter. I think that any time you get a guy who is a shooter you should put a playmaker with him."
Philadelphia's second-leading scorer, Mike Knuble, returned Thursday after missing 12 games with a fractured cheek bone and orbital bone. The Flyers, though, were without top scorer Simon Gagne, who missed his third straight game with a hip flexor strain but could return Saturday.
Philadelphia has lost six of seven on the road, and could have a hard time rebounding in Ottawa. Among Eastern Conference teams, only conference-leading Buffalo has as many home wins as the Senators (23).
Plus, the Flyers have won only one of their last eight regular-season games in Ottawa.
The Senators can sweep the four-game season series with a victory Saturday. They won 6-1 at home when these teams last met Jan. 7.