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Oilers try to end road woes in Ottawa

Friday, 02.10.2012 / 6:45 PM

Matthew Mankiewich - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Oilers try to end road woes in Ottawa
Edmonton Oilers vs. Ottawa Senators
OILERS (21-28-5) at SENATORS (28-22-7)

TV: CBC; RDS2 (HD)

LAST 10: Edmonton 4-5-1, Ottawa 3-6-1

Season Series: The second of the annual home-and-home series; the Senators won 5-2 in Edmonton back in November and have a chance to sweep the Oilers for the third time in the last four seasons they have met since the lockout.

Big Story: At least the Senators can breathe a bit, having snapped their seven-game losing streak Thursday with a 4-3 win over the Predators and offensive help from an unlikely source. Chris Phillips celebrated his 1,000th NHL game with a pair of goals, the first for the stay-at-home defenseman in almost a year. The Oilers' road struggles continue -- they've lost at Toronto and Detroit this week, leaving them desperate to salvage something in Ottawa before returning home.

Team Scope:

Oilers: The gap between the Oilers' performance at Rexall Place and away from it is drastic. At 6-20-2, their road record is the worst in the NHL, and they've won only one of 16 away games since Nov. 26. Given their respectable 15-8-3 home record, it's more than enough to be the major difference between contending for a playoff spot and their current 14th-place position in the Western Conference, 13 points behind eighth-seeded Phoenix.

"I don't know if it's the comfort of being at home or what it is," Ryan Jones said to the National Post. "We just haven't played very well on the road. It's not that we're playing the same game and winning at home, but losing on the road. We're playing great at home and playing like junk on the road.

"I don't have an explanation for it, but if we'd just duplicate what we do at home we'd be in a whole different position."

Senators: Home or away, the Senators have been streaky this season. Before the seven-game slide that ended Thursday, Ottawa had gone 8-1-1 to work their way back into the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Considering that they only picked up one point in those seven losses, the Senators' seventh seed and five-point deficit to the Northeast Division-leading Bruins are very fortunate positions indeed.

Still, coach Paul MacLean knew their luck wouldn't last, so a line shuffle was in order. Bobby Butler went from three straight games as a healthy scratch to the top line and came up with a pair of assists against Nashville. Craig Anderson got a rest after 18 consecutive starts and the defense rallied around backup Alex Auld. For Phillips, it was pure karma as far as his teammates were concerned.

"I think (Phillips) scoring two goals proves there are hockey gods and rewarding a great person," center Jason Spezza said in the Ottawa Citizen. "He's a great teammate. He's a guy that's highly regarded in this dressing room and I don't think there's a guy in this room that isn't happy for him. To see him have the night he had is a pretty special moment for our team."

Who's Hot: Sam Gagner has kept his solid play going after his epic eight-point night last Thursday. He's had eight goals and seven assists during a five-game points streak and has had a hand in 14 of the Oilers' last 17 goals. Jordan Eberle's four-game goal-scoring streak was stopped in Detroit on Wednesday, but he and Gagner have scored 13 of Edmonton's last 16. … Butler probably earned a second try at the top line Saturday as he, Spezza and Milan Michalek combined for seven points Thursday. Spezza's two goals ended an eight-game drought.

Injury Report: All eyes in Edmonton are on Calder contender Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who reinjured his left shoulder in Toronto on Monday in only his second game back after missing the previous 13. He's expected to be out 10 more days. … Senators forward Jesse Winchester, out since Dec. 21 with a concussion, is practicing with the team and remains day-to-day.

Stat Pack : Gagner's eight goals over a four-game span is the most productive stretch by an Oiler since Petr Klima did the same in 1991. His 14 points in that span match a Mark Messier run between Jan, 17-27, 1990. … In 28 road games, the Oilers have scored 64 goals, 12 fewer than at Rexall Place, while allowing 92, 26 more than they've allowed at home. … Before Thursday, Phillips' last goal was on Feb. 26, 2011 -- 74 games ago. That goal ended a 72-game drought. At the time, his future with the Senators was in doubt as the trade deadline approached. … Milan Michalek has now gone 12 games without a goal, but had two assists and was robbed twice by All-Star goalie Pekka Rinne.

Puck Drop: "I'm just happy to be the guy who is flanking him right now. He's got the hot hand. The biggest thing for him is that he's going to the net. He's got really good timing and he's getting open and putting it in." -- Taylor Hall in the National Post on linemate Gagner. Aside from Gagner and Eberle, Hall has one of the Oilers' last 16 goals; the other two were scored by defensemen

2011-2012 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Feb 11 '12EDM 4 at OTT 3 - OTT. Hall
Nov 17 '11OTT 5 at EDM 2M. Michalek
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
J. Eberle51243054+4883
T. Hall45192241+024105
R. Smyth55162036-44544
S. Gagner48132336+22850
R. Nugent-Hopkins40132235-3831
S. Horcoff55101828-171240
A. Hemsky4242024-142510
R. Jones55121123-43011
C. Potter4131417-161610
T. Gilbert4131316-31221
J. Petry4821315-101610
E. Belanger522911-142810
A. Sutton33369+25601
B. Eager42628-77902
L. Smid55358-23600
R. Whitney24178-10610
M. Paajarvi35167-6200
L. Petrell37336-83800
A. Lander51246-81000
T. Peckham46123-17400
C. Barker16202+01611
J. Green7112-6710
D. Hordichuk23011-42800
C. Teubert20011-41800
R. O'Marra7011+0400
A. Plante3011+0200
P. Cornet2011+0000
T. Chorney5000-1000
L. Omark5000-2200
T. Hartikainen5000-4000
M. Kytnar1000+0000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
N. Khabibulin3212-16-4769122.52.917
D. Dubnyk2710-12-1758123.01.908
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
J. Spezza58223456-22472
E. Karlsson5794150+82811
D. Alfredsson52192241+61072
M. Michalek53241236-81472
N. Foligno58122032-58112
S. Gonchar5122628-43410
C. Greening58121527-63030
Z. Smith58131023+45713
E. Condra5771219+112401
F. Kuba4941519+121821
C. Neil499918-1010120
C. Phillips5621315-11211
K. Turris315914+72102
J. Cowen5841014-72701
B. Butler435712+31003
K. Daugavins49358-51201
J. Winchester28257+32200
Z. Konopka49325-416811
S. Da Costa22325-9800
B. Lee30055-62700
P. Regin10224+3200
D. Rundblad24134-11600
M. Carkner23112-22900
N. Filatov9011+1400
M. Zibanejad9011-3200
J. O'Brien5000-1200
M. Borowiecki2000-1200
A. Petersson1000+0000
M. Hoffman1000-1000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
C. Anderson5225-19-614415573.01.908
A. Auld132-3-2322733.28.883
R. Lehner11-0-02252.00.920