SENATORS (36-24-4) at HURRICANES (25-30-7)
Last 10: Ottawa 7-3-0; Carolina 8-2-0.
Season series: Third of four meetings this season. Each team has won once on home ice. Alex Kovalev recorded the hat trick, including his 400th NHL goal, as Ottawa claimed a 4-2 victory on Dec. 12. Cam Ward stopped 31 shots to lead Carolina to a 4-1 win on Jan. 10.
Big story: Each team did some dealing prior to Wednesday's trade deadline, particularly the Hurricanes. These clubs actually completed a transaction with one another prior to the Olympics, with veteran forward Matt Cullen being sent to the Senators in exchange for defenseman Alexandre Picard and a draft pick. Cullen, a member of Carolina's Stanley Cup-winning squad in 2006, returns to the RBC Center to face his former teammates.
Senators: In addition to adding Cullen before the break, Ottawa picked up defenseman Andy Sutton from the New York Islanders on Tuesday for a draft pick. Sutton, a 12-year NHL veteran, was beyond excited to join the Senators, who lead the Northeast Division despite a 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers in their first game following the Olympics.
"I'm ecstatic. It's an unbelievable opportunity," Sutton said. "That was the first thing I said to (Ottawa GM) Bryan (Murray) -- I thanked him so much for the opportunity. Being an older player and getting a chance to play on such a great team and having a chance to win the Stanley Cup is a dream come true."
Hurricanes: Right now there's no hotter team in the League than Carolina, which won 5-1 in Toronto on Tuesday to extend its winning streak to six games. However, the Hurricanes are still eight points out of an Eastern Conference playoff berth and continued to clean house prior to the deadline, trading defensemen Joe Corvo, Aaron Ward and Andrew Alberts and forwards Scott Walker and Stephane Yelle on Wednesday.
Walker, a Game 7 hero in Carolina's surprising run to the Eastern Conference Finals last season when he scored an overtime goal to eliminate Boston, has guaranteed himself a return playoff engagement as he goes to the East-leading Washington Capitals, but it was hard to say goodbye.
"So many emotions. Too many," a tearful Walker said after learning of the trade. "I'm excited to move and try to win, but it's tough to leave the guys here."
Who's hot: Milan Michalek scored his team-leading 21st goal for the Senators to open the scoring in their loss to the Rangers. … Jussi Jokinen entered the Olympic break on fire and continued that way for the Hurricanes with his career-high 24th goal against the Leafs. Jokinen has nine goals and four assists during a 10-game points streak.
Injury report: Ottawa defenseman Filip Kuba is day-to-day with a lower-body injury, while forward Nick Foligno is on injured reserve with a broken leg. … Ward remains out for Carolina with a back injury.
Stat pack: Oskar Osala, a 22-year-old left wing the Hurricanes picked up as part of another deal with the Capitals for Corvo, had 38 goals and 28 assists over the past two seasons for the AHL Hershey Bears. Oskala added six goals and four assists during the Bears' march to the Calder Cup championship last season.
Puck drop: After an 11-game winning streak transformed the Senators from a playoff-bubble team to a legitimate contender for the No. 2 or 3 seed in the East, Murray decided only minor tinkering was needed with his roster and was satisfied with the acquisitions of Cullen and Sutton.
"I'm very happy with the team," Ottawa coach Cory Clouston said. "We like our team and we like our chemistry. We're very happy with that."