HURRICANES (7-18-6) at SENATORS (15-11-4)
Last 10: Carolina 3-6-1; Ottawa 4-5-1
Season series: First of four meetings this season. The teams split their 2008-09 matchups, with the home team winning each time. Three different players scored two goals each, but two of them are no longer with that team (Dany Heatley, Ottawa; Anton Babchuk, Carolina) and the other is on injured reserve (Joe Corvo, Carolina).
Big story: Neither of these teams has had an easy go of it lately, but the Senators are in a much stronger position, sitting just four points off the Northeast Division lead and looking forward to playing nine of their next 13 games on home ice. The Hurricanes are still 30th in the League by a seven-point margin and 12 points out of an Eastern Conference playoff berth.
Hurricanes: An early goal by newcomer Jiri Tlusty sparked a two-goal first for Carolina in Washington on Friday. The Capitals eventually erased that lead and went ahead 3-2 in the third before Tim Gleason netted the tying goal with the Hurricanes shorthanded and 6:30 left. Although they would lose 4-3 in overtime, Eric Staal lauded Gleason, who took a puck to the face and required 30 stitches later, but kept playing.
"That shows the type of player he is, the character he has, the toughness he brings to the team," Staal said. "It was a huge goal he had. It got us a point."
Senators: Brian Elliott recorded a 23-save shutout and Ottawa won its second straight on the road after losing its previous seven away from Scotiabank Place, beating Philadelphia 2-0 on Thursday.
"Any win on the road is a big win, and any win at this time of the year is big," coach Cory Clouston said. "We've been struggling a little bit as of late. Brian was real solid. I thought our guys did a real good job of blocking shots and getting in shooting lanes."
Who's hot: Staal's goal gave him seven points (six assists) in his past five games for the Hurricanes. Gleason, who didn't register a goal in 70 regular-season games in 2008-09, already has a career-high five in just 26 games.
Injury report: Carolina recently lost forwards Erik Cole (upper body) and Chad LaRose (lower body) to injuries that will sideline them between 2-4 weeks. Defenseman Niclas Wallin (upper body) has missed consecutive games. Corvo (right leg surgery) is on injured reserve, as are Michael Ryan (concussion) and Casey Borer (broken neck), who have not played this season.
Ottawa defenseman Alexandre Picard has been out for the past week with an upper-body injury. He could return Saturday, but forwards Chris Neil and Shean Donovan are out with knee injuries and goalie Pascal Leclaire is still recovering from a broken jaw.
Stat pack: One of the keys to Elliott's shutout was the number of pucks he didn't have to face. The Senators blocked 25 shots in the game – two more than actually got through to their goaltender.
"I saw the shot total after the game and it seemed like a lot more, just because (the Flyers) were buzzing around the whole time," Elliott said. "But they didn't get that many shots through, so it definitely helps out."
Puck drop: Carolina has gotten a lift from the return of goaltender Cam Ward, who made 36 saves Friday in his second game back after a lengthy injury absence, and the forwards they called up to replace Cole and LaRose both contributed in Washington – Tlusty opened the scoring and Patrick Dwyer assisted on a goal by Staal. But what the Hurricanes really need are victories, and not of the moral variety.
"For us, right now, one point doesn't do much," Staal said. "It was tough to lose in overtime."