"This whole playoff it's been fun to do that," Richards said Tuesday in the wake of New York taking a 2-0 series lead against the Montreal Canadiens in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference Final. "When I was in Tampa, Marty also, we didn't really have a clue what we were doing. We were first time through it, we were leaning on other people, older people, asking them all the questions, which I think is a lot easier when you're younger.
"Now you know all the things that can happen, and it's a lot harder. But it's fun to try to gather the group and talk about things. This group has come together so much and they ask a lot of questions. They make fun of us a lot too for doing that, but it's fun to try to help out that way."
Ottawa coach Paul MacLean shed no new light on why Zibanejad was sent to a hospital Thursday at the end of the Senators' 2-1 shootout win against the New Jersey Devils.
Zibanejad assisted on Mike Hoffman's second-period goal Thursday but did not play after his second shift of the third period.
"Well, he was here today and he still has to have further tests going into next, so he's still out of the lineup," MacLean said after Ottawa held an optional morning skate prior to their last game of the season at Canadian Tire Centre.
Both teams have been eliminated from contention for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. New Jersey's faint hopes were dashed Wednesday when both the Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets became the final Eastern Conference teams to secure playoff spots.
"You invest six months of work into a team and into a group and when you don't accomplish what you set out to accomplish it's tough, it's like the air getting let out of a balloon," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said after the team's morning skate at Canadian Tire Centre. "I don't have another description for it."
Three-time Stanley Cup champion Martin Brodeur was disappointed about New Jersey missing the playoffs for a second straight season after leading the Devils to the Final in 2012, where they lost to the Los Angeles Kings in six games.
"I didn't miss the playoffs once in 16 years, 17 years, when I started and now it's been three times out of four years so definitely it gets frustrating a little bit," Brodeur said. "You don't have many chances to win Stanley Cups at my age so you want to at least get into the dance, and now three out of four years we haven't done that here."
OTTAWA -- The Montreal Canadiens have an opportunity to enhance their bid for home-ice advantage in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Friday against the Ottawa Senators, who will have captain Jason Spezza back in the lineup.
As a bonus, Montreal can deal an all-but-final blow to Ottawa's playoff hopes and exact a measure of revenge for its first-round loss to the Senators last spring.
"It's not something we've really talked about," Canadiens forward Daniel Briere said. "You know it's always big games against Ottawa. Rivalries get created in the playoffs, mostly, so there's some hatred between the two teams, and it's a good thing for us at this point. There's only five games left, but we don't want to let ourselves go and just coast through the last five games.
"A game like tonight, knowing that it's going to be intense, knowing that these guys are fighting for their lives, we'll have to be ready. If we're not, we're going to get outplayed, so it's a good thing to have a game like this tonight."
Spezza and Cowen each sustained lower-body injuries Sunday during Ottawa's 6-3 win against the Calgary Flames.
The Senators play the third of a five-game homestand Monday, their third game in four days. They host the New York Islanders on Wednesday to begin another run of three games in four days, closing out the homestand against the Montreal Canadiens on Friday followed by a game Saturday against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
"We're trying to keep as many guys healthy as we can to get through the games, but we anticipate by the weekend that we should have both of them available," Ottawa coach Paul MacLean said of Spezza and Cowen. "I think they're both probable for the Islanders game, but at the same time it's probably more realistic for the weekend against Montreal."
OTTAWA -- If center Steven Stamkos isn't all the way back to the condition he was in before his broken leg, the Tampa Bay Lightning are just fine with what he has delivered through his first seven games back in the lineup, especially the past four.
Stamkos and the Lightning are in fine form as they prepare to play the second game on their three-game road trip Thursday against the Ottawa Senators.
Tampa Bay, which has 13 games remaining, has ridden a four-game winning streak to a tie for second place in the Atlantic Division with the Montreal Canadiens. Each has 83 points and the Lightning have a game in hand.
Ottawa is winless in its past three, a skid that began eight days ago with a 4-3 overtime loss against theNashville Predators. Anderson was hurt by defenseman Shea Weber's slap shot to his left shoulder but remained in the game. He left in the third period after a collision with teammate Milan Michalek.
"He practiced [Tuesday], which is very positive, but he's not going to play [Tuesday night]. He's not going to dress [Tuesday night]," Senators coach Paul MacLean said of Anderson. "I was encouraged by the fact he was on the ice."
Ottawa gave up three goals to the Montreal Canadiens in the final 3:22 of regulation Saturday to blow a 4-1 lead. The Senators, who face an uphill climb to get into playoff contention, had to settle for one point after Montreal scored its fourth straight goal in overtime for a stunning 5-4 come-from-behind win.
Ottawa (28-25-13) is in 12th place in the Eastern Conference with 69 points, seven points out of the second and final wild-card spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Nashville coach Barry Trotz recognizes Ottawa has a better vantage point at the moment on playing later into April as the two teams get ready for their game Monday at Canadian Tire Centre.
The Predators arrive in Canada's capital on a four-game losing streak and with one win in their past eight games (1-5-2). Nashville (26-28-10) is last in the Central Division with 62 points and 12th in the Western Conference, 10 points behind the Dallas Stars, who currently hold the second wild-card spot.
"We always have a good time together, but this is a division game with playoff implications," Alfredsson said about seeing Karlsson, his former Senators protégé and teammate on Sweden's silver medal-winning team at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, prior to his second game back in Ottawa. "I think everybody knows it's going to be a tight race all the way until the end, and you play teams that are right around you; it's important games, so I'm not looking to go out there and have fun, it's just go out there, get the job done and get the two points."
Alfredsson was welcomed back by Senators fans in Detroit's first game in Ottawa on Dec. 1. He was given a huge ovation during a pregame video tribute, and then went out and scored an empty-net goal to seal a 4-2 win for the Red Wings.
OTTAWA -- Chris Phillips will miss his sixth straight game when the Ottawa Senators play the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday, and it doesn't look promising for the veteran defenseman to return Saturday for the Senators' final game before the NHL breaks for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Phillips, who is out with a lower-body injury, missed three games earlier this season. Chosen No. 1 by Ottawa in the 1996 NHL Draft, the 35-year-old missed a total of three games over the previous six seasons after a knee injury sidelined him for the final 11 games of 2005-06.
"He doesn't miss games," Senators captain Jason Spezza said. "It was surprising not to see him on the plane the other day. You know when [Phillips] misses games that he's really hurt. He's a guy that's always been a professional and always showed up and played through a lot of injuries."
With Stamkos attempting to recover from a broken right leg in hopes of being able to play for Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said he understands the scrutiny of his center's health at every stop the Lightning make in a Canadian city.
"He's battling to get through and I guess you can't rush the genetics, the healing process and everything that goes on, but every day it gets another day closer," Cooper said. "Eventually it's going to have to come down to a situation where he's going to have to start battling with guys in the corner just to see how those instinctive movements go and is he going to feel it, because he can do all the crossovers he wants out there and have fun and go up and down without those battles, but that's where it's going to come into play and so eventually it's going to have to happen here soon because we're running out of time.
"The one thing we've said from the beginning, though, he will not put his health at risk to go to the Olympics. I know that's his top priority, to make sure he goes over there, but his health will override that."
BROSSARD, Que. -- For months, P.K. Subban has been the subject of much discussion and debate by Canadian hockey pundits and fans about whether he would be invited to take part in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
On Tuesday, the Montreal Canadiens defenseman got the call he and his boosters were hoping for.
Subban was named to Canada's Olympic team along with Montreal teammate Carey Price, bolstering to eight the number of Canadiens who will represent their respective countries in Sochi.
Montreal defensemen Andrei Markov and Alexei Emelin were named Tuesday to represent Russia, which will host its first Olympic Winter Games. Canadiens backup goalie Peter Budaj was named to Slovakia's Olympic team.
Gudbranson missed Florida's previous five games because of a broken orbital bone. The 6-foot-5, 210-pound defenseman had surgery after sustaining the injury on Dec. 20 when he was struck in the face by a puck in a 5-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets.
He wore a full-face cage on his helmet at the Panthers' morning skate at Bell Centre.
"I was told it was a two-, three-week recovery, so it's two weeks [Monday]," Gudbranson said. "I feel ready to go, so it's fun to play. I'm excited to play. If I was worried, I wouldn't play. Obviously I'm wearing that cage for a reason. It's for safety and that'll certainly help me out. That'll ease my mind with it, but going out and playing my game shouldn't be an issue."
Gudbranson, who turns 22 on Tuesday, was partnered with Florida captain Ed Jovanovski, who made his season debut Saturday in a 5-4 shootout win against the Nashville Predators.
Spezza revealed the nature of his injury after the team's morning skate at Canadian Tire Centre. He said he sustained the injury Saturday during Ottawa's 4-3 win against the Boston Bruins.
"I just kind of lost my balance at the start of the second period on the boards and as I was falling I kind of pulled something," Spezza said. "I finished the game and felt all right and thought I'd be fine the next day. Then I woke up and I was sore."
Spezza didn't have a timeline for his return but said he feels like he is making progress and doesn't expect it to be a long-term injury.
"We want to make sure that I squash it so that it's like anything, groins, hips, you don't want them to linger," Spezza said.
OTTAWA -- Bobby Ryan's television viewing on New Year's Day got his 2014 off to a disappointing start.
The high-scoring Ottawa Senators right wing was watching Wednesday when the United States Olympic men's hockey team was unveiled at the end of the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.
Unlike four years earlier, when a young hockey player sported a 2010 U.S. Olympic jersey with his name on the back at the end of the 2010 Winter Classic at Fenway Park in Boston, Ryan did not make the final cut for the American team that will compete at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. The team was introduced following the Toronto Maple Leafs' 3-2 shootout win against the Detroit Red Wings at Michigan Stadium.
"Ultimately they decided to go a different direction so I guess as a player you have to respect that, but at the same time I thought I played well enough to earn a spot. But I can't change it now," Ryan said Thursday after Ottawa's morning skate at Canadian Tire Centre prior to the Senators' game against the Winnipeg Jets.
Blake Wheeler had more than a safe landing in Ottawa to celebrate Wednesday.
When the Winnipeg Jets arrived at their hotel in Canada's capital, Wheeler got a text message from his wife that he had made the United States Olympic team for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
"It's kind of surreal, to be honest," Wheeler said Thursday. "Just playing in the NHL was kind of above and beyond dreams that I had growing up. It was pretty special for myself and for my wife and my family, so it was a pretty big day."
Washington coach Adam Oates decided to start Grubauer on consecutive days after he stopped 16 of 17 shots Sunday in the Capitals' 2-1 shootout loss in Buffalo. The 22-year-old German rookie held the Sabres scoreless through the first five rounds of the tiebreaker before Steve Ott scored the winner on Buffalo's sixth attempt.
"I thought he played a really good game," Oates said. "We outshot them 50 to something, 15, 16, and he didn't have a lot of work chances-wise, and I think that he's got plenty of energy for tonight."
Braden Holtby has two starts in the Capitals' previous eight games.
"It's a long year and there's going to be plenty of opportunity," Oates said.
Boston coach Claude Julien said he had made up his mind which goaltender would start the second game of the back-to-back set against Ottawa, but he was keeping that decision to himself.
Rask, Svedberg and backup Chad Johnson were all on the ice Saturday for the Bruins' optional skate at Canadian Tire Centre. However, Svedberg was sent back to Providence of the American Hockey League on Saturday afternoon when it was necessary for the Bruins to recall defenseman Zach Trotman to replace Seidenberg, who will be out for the season with a knee injury sustained Friday.
OTTAWA --Sidney Crosby was named the NHL's Second Star of the Week on Monday after the Pittsburgh Penguins captain led the way on offense during a stretch where the injury-plagued team's depth on defense was tested to its fullest.
Crosby had two goals and six assists in four games to extend his League scoring lead to 54 points, six ahead of Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks.
Ottawa fell to 14-16-6 after following a 3-2 overtime win against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday with the loss to the Devils. It was the seventh straight time the Senators failed to win consecutive games, dating to a season-high three-game winning streak from Nov. 5-9.
Right wing Bobby Ryan said he and his teammates got a clear message from Murray in the Prudential Center dressing room.
"Ruling out all the expletives, 'Wake up!'" Ryan said after Ottawa held an optional skate Thursday. "Wake up and show up. I think what I took most out of it is that we can be the most maddening team he's ever seen. That's a team that shows up against St. Louis, plays a great hockey game, complete for 63 minutes, and then plays zero against a team like New Jersey."
Ottawa captain Jason Spezza said Murray did not deliver any ultimatums or threats, "but it's a definite understanding that if we don't start playing better it could be you out the door."
"They're both banged up, like a lot of guys on our team," Hitchcock said after neither St. Louis forward took part in the team's morning skate at Canadian Tire Centre.
Schwartz and Sobotka played Saturday in the Blues' 4-3 overtime win against the Columbus Blue Jackets that began their two-game road trip.
"We went the other way against Columbus and neither guy was effective in the tail end of the game," Hitchcock said. "It's not starting the game, it's finishing the game. And for us, if we feel like we want them to finish the game, then we're going to have to give them as much rest as we can so that they're ready to go, so we opted not to skate them [Monday]."
Ceci made his NHL debut Thursday in Ottawa's 2-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres. He finished plus-2 in 20:40 of ice time, which included time on the power play and penalty killing shifts.
The 19-year-old Ottawa native was recalled from Binghamton of the American Hockey League on an emergency basis Thursday to fill in for Marc Methot, who will miss his second straight game Saturday as he recovers from the flu.
Ottawa called up defenseman Cody Ceci from the Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League on an emergency basis. Ceci, a first-round pick (No. 15) in 2012, will make his NHL debut against Buffalo.
The 19-year-old ranks third in scoring in Binghamton with 17 points, including two goals, in 24 games.
"The reports on Cody have been he's been outstanding," Ottawa coach Paul MacLean said after the morning skate at Canadian Tire Centre. "He's been the best player on either team for the last 2-3 weeks, if not a month, and he's been playing the best down there, so he's getting an opportunity to come here for a game and we have an opportunity to see him."
OTTAWA -- The Philadelphia Flyers were in a bad way the last time they came to Canadian Tire Centre, but facing the Ottawa Senators proved to be just what they needed to start their climb back into the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
Steve Mason got his first Philadelphia shutout in a 5-0 win against Ottawa on Nov. 12 as the Flyers, who got off to a 4-10-1 start, won consecutive games for the second time this season.
Philadelphia went on to record points in seven straight games (6-0-1) during a span that featured a pair of three-game winning streaks, including one that began with a 5-2 win against Ottawa on Nov. 19.
"We dug ourselves out of a hole and put ourselves in the picture," Flyers right wing Steve Downiesaid. "We're not near where we want to be but we definitely made strides. We've just got to keep improving every day, and try to get a couple more wins and get back in there."
The Maple Leafs, who did not hold a morning skate, put center Tyler Bozak on long-term injured reserve earlier in the week because of an oblique strain he suffered Tuesday in a 4-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks that ran their losing streak to five.
Toronto, which snapped its skid Thursday with a 3-2 overtime win against the Dallas Stars, was already missing center Dave Bolland, who has been sidelined since Nov. 2 with an ankle injury.
"We know that they've had injuries, but if you look at us the last couple of years, we've had lots of injuries and managed to play well," Spezza said after Ottawa held an optional skate Saturday. "Injuries can be an opportunity for other guys to step up, so you don't take any team lightly. It doesn't matter who they are or who's hurt, there are some good hockey players on both teams and you don't take anybody for granted, or take anybody lighter."
OTTAWA -- Daniel Alfredsson and Erik Karlsson arrived at Canadian Tire Centre together for their game Sunday, but unlike in previous seasons, they parted ways in front of the visiting team's dressing room.
The two Swedes shook hands and embraced before Alfredsson turned to head into the Detroit Red Wings' room. Karlsson continued down the hallway to the Ottawa Senators' dressing room.
Alfredsson will play his first game in Ottawa since parting ways with the Senators last summer, when he signed a one-year contract to play with Detroit.
"I think Jared has struggled at times this year, and I think that it's time for him to watch a game and see if he can settle himself down and get himself back playing the way that we need him to play," Ottawa coach Paul MacLean said.
Cowen had hip surgery last November and missed most of last season after he was injured while playing for Binghamton of the American Hockey League during the lockout.
OTTAWA -- It was a quiet morning on the ice at Canadian Tire Centre on Wednesday after the Ottawa Senators and Minnesota Wild played road games Tuesday.
Neither team held a morning skate after each arrived in Canada's capital with decisive losses fresh in their thoughts.
Goalie Craig Anderson will start for the fourth time in five games for Ottawa since he was sidelined because of a sore neck. Anderson has a 5-6-2 record with a 3.26 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage.
Backup Robin Lehner faced 42 shots Tuesday in a 5-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. It was the seventh time the Senators have allowed at least 40 shots. Ottawa has allowed a League-high 761 shots in 21 games, an average of more than 36 per game. Defenseman Marc Methot said that puts too much pressure on Anderson and Lehner to bear the load.
"You can't count on your goalie being your savior every single game and I think putting that weight on their shoulders and having them having to stop 40, 45 shots a game, that's unacceptable and that's not going to happen every season," Methot said Wednesday. "We were pretty fortunate last year to have that, but it's time now for us to kind of grow up a little bit here and mature defensively and really start playing a lot more sound in our own end."
The Blue Jackets have just one win in their past nine games (1-5-3), yet they have earned points in four straight games. Columbus ended a five-game losing streak on Nov. 9 with a 5-2 win against the New York Islanders, then followed that up with a pair of overtime losses and a 3-2 shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Friday.
Blue Jackets left wing Nick Foligno will play his first game in Ottawa since he was traded by the Senators to Columbus for defenseman Marc Methot on July 1, 2012.
"It's going to be a tooth-and-nail kind of game, where it's 60 minutes and you're grinding it out to get that win, and I think we just have to find that little extra effort to make sure we do that," Foligno said. "I think once we do, and find that way to get a win, we're going to start rolling from there."
In his first start since Nov. 3, Anderson stopped 26 of 31 shots Tuesday in a 5-0 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. He missed three games because of a sore neck, the result of a goalmouth collision with Dallas Stars rookie Valeri Nichushkin.
Lehner led Ottawa to three straight wins while Anderson was sidelined because of a sore neck, posting a 1.33 goals-against average and .958 save percentage over the course of the streak.
"It's a nice honor, but I think it reflects on the whole team's defensive play too," Lehner said. "I think I got a lot more help the last three, four games. I think we're starting to play a lot better."
The 22-year-old Swede had no problem accepting coach Paul MacLean's decision to start Anderson against Philadelphia.
"Paul knows a lot more than I do," Lehner said. "Hopefully one day I can be the starter here. I don't know if it's next year or three years from now, but [Anderson] is great. He's a quality number-one goalie in this League. He's led his team to two playoff runs. All I did is win three games and people are talking about me playing again. He's the starter and that's the way it is."
Montreal has played 15 games, including a dozen against Western Conference teams, without playing a division game since Oct. 1, when they lost their home opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
While the Toronto-Montreal rivalry is the oldest in NHL history, the Canadiens and Senators took their budding rivalry to a new level last spring when Ottawa won their first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series in five games in the first modern postseason encounter between the teams.
Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said he welcomes the enhanced rivalry against a team that is a two-hour drive from Montreal.
OTTAWA -- In getting ready to face the Dallas Stars on Sunday, Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean is encouraged that some of his players started "digging in" during their last game, even though the Senators' winless streak reached four in a row.
Ottawa gave up a team-record 57 shots and blew a pair of two-goal leads in a 5-4 shootout loss against the New York Islanders on Friday. The Senators had a 4-2 lead against the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday before losing 6-5.
"We didn't cave in and lose the game in regulation, so we got it to overtime and got it to a shootout, so that's what I mean by digging in," MacLean said prior to the game Sunday. "We didn't end up finding a way to lose the game in regulation. We found a way to dig in and at least we got something out of the game. [Sunday] we need to dig in here and find a way to win a game."
Acquired in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday, Vanek did not have a point in a 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Tuesday in his Islanders debut.
"I've got a wife and three kids, so anytime you throw that in the equation it makes it a little bit harder, but I think this team is really close and they've taken me in and they're making each day more and more comfortable for me," said Vanek, who will play his 600th regular-season game Friday.
Niemi stopped 22 shots Saturday in San Jose's 2-0 win against the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre for his second shutout in three games. He has started all 11 games as the Sharks have gotten off to a league-leading 9-1-1 start.
Stalock's three previous games with the Sharks were all relief appearances, including two last season. He missed nearly a year after having surgery to repair a nerve behind his knee that was severed in a minor league game on February 4, 2011, just three days after he won his NHL debut.
San Jose coach Todd McLellan felt that starting Stalock might spur his teammates to summon some extra effort for a strong finish to their eastern swing.
"Time to get him in and this is a great opportunity for him," McLellan said prior to the game Sunday at Canadian Tire Centre. "I'd like to think that our guys will play really hard for him. It might be a good thing for us playing Alex tonight. Back end of a long road trip, back to back, maybe guys will dig in a little bit more and we'll empty the tanks."
Selanne, who played in Anaheim's 4-1 loss at the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, is not expected to play games on consecutive days this season. He is four games shy of his 1,400th regular-season NHL game.
Ottawa has won three of its past four games, but the Senators were at low tide when they faced the Ducks on Oct. 13, losing 4-1 in Bobby Ryan's first game back in Anaheim to drop their record to 1-2-2 on their season-opening six-game road trip.
"They took advantage of us not being very sharp," said captain Jason Spezza, who scored twice Wednesday. "We know they lost [Thursday] so they're going to come with a bit of a burr [Friday] too. They're too good a team and good teams always talk about not losing two in a row, so we know they're going to give a good effort, but we feel like we have much better to show them and we hope we can give them a better game [Friday]."
Hall was called for slashing after he was hit hard by Senators defenseman Eric Gryba at 11:04 of the period. He came out of the penalty box and stayed on the ice briefly before going to the dressing room with 6:42 left in the period.
Hall, the first pick of the 2010 NHL Draft, has three goals and five assists in nine games.
OTTAWA -- With six road games under his belt, Jason Spezza has had an opportunity to get used to wearing the captain's "C" on his white Ottawa Senators jersey.
On Thursday he gets to trot out his red home jersey as fans at Canadian Tire Centre begin to experience life after longtime captain Daniel Alfredsson when the Senators finally play their home opener, against the New Jersey Devils.
"It'll be special, for sure," said Spezza, who scored a natural hat trick Tuesday in a 4-3 overtime win at the Phoenix Coyotes. "It's the home opener and the first time being announced as captain here so I'm looking forward to it. Like I've said all along, it's a big honor and I'm excited to be able to finally play a home game with the 'C.'"
Not only is it a great idea, but if you don't [start using analytics] you're going to fall behind. You have to be on the cutting edge. It was [Arizona Coyotes assistant general manager] Darcy Regier who said, 'If you didn't invent it, you have to be the second- or third-best copier, because if you're fourth or fifth you've got no chance.'
— Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock on his interest in advanced statistical analysis