A win tonight against the Winnipeg Jets
would provide the Ottawa Senators
with some separation from one cluster of clubs and nudge them into a higher echelon.
A win would move the seventh-place Senators (38-28-10) four points ahead of the Washington Capitals
and Buffalo Sabres
and to within two points of the sixth-place New Jersey Devils
. They would also move to within three points of the Northeast Division lead the Boston Bruins
hold at the moment.
Going against a desperate Winnipeg club poses a challenge for the Senators, they admit.
"They play hard and are desperate, just like we are," coach Paul MacLean
But Ottawa rebounded from a road shellacking against the Montreal Canadiens
to take an 8-4 home decision over the Pittsburgh Penguins
on Saturday night. Captain Daniel Alfredsson
registered a season-high four-point evening and six Senators managed multi-point nights.
"We hope that the big goal output that we had [against Pittsburgh] can give guys some confidence," leading scorer Jason Spezza
said. "I think it was a pretty good bounce-back game for us, a good character game for us."
The win cost the Senators the services of goaltender Ben Bishop
, who exited the game with a lower-body injury. Bishop's absence means that Craig Anderson
, who missed 12 games with a hand injury before returning last week, will start tonight's game. Alex Auld
will back up Anderson.
After tonight's game, the Senators do not resume play until Saturday, when they visit Philadelphia, and will have just five games remaining.
"Desperate teams are tough to play against," Nick Foligno
said. "They're fighting for their lives, and we have to treat it the same way for us. We're a desperate hockey team as well. It's a tight race for us. It's a push to the playoffs for us, as well."
Here are the projected lines and pairings for the Senators:
- Jason Spezza
- Milan Michalek
- Kyle Turris
- Daniel Alfredsson
- Jim O'Brien
- Chris Neil
- Kaspars Daugavins
- Erik Condra
- Erik Karlsson
- Sergei Gonchar
- Matt Carkner