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At the Rink: Ducks at Senators

by Chris Stevenson

OTTAWA -- The Ottawa Senators have been near the bottom of the NHL rankings in shots-allowed per game for the past four seasons.

It doesn't take advanced stats to show that's not a path to success.

Under coach Dave Cameron, who replaced Paul MacLean on Dec. 8, the Senators have seen, for the most part, a positive trend in the number of shot attempts they have surrendered.

They gave up 65 attempts against the Los Angeles Kings in Cameron's debut, a 5-3 loss on Dec. 11; 61 against the Boston Bruins on Dec. 13 in a 3-2 shootout win; and 46 against the Buffalo Sabres on Monday in a 5-4 shootout loss. But in a 2-0 win against the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday, Ottawa allowed 58.

When the Senators play the Anaheim Ducks on Friday, it'll be interesting to see which way the trend is going.

"The last game we turned the puck over so much we spent way too much time in our own end," Cameron said. "When you're defending, that's hard work. When you're on offense, you might be on the same amount of time, but on offense you never seem as tired. We've got to play a little more on offense."

Cameron said playing the game with more pace and improving the Senators' forecheck would be the keys to spending less time in their zone and cutting down the shots against.

"I think it will play itself out," right wing Bobby Ryan said. "I think we've done a better job of taking away second and third opportunities. We know that we have two great goaltenders back there that can make that first save. Whether or not they control the rebound, the onus is on us to clear those areas out, make sure guys aren't coming down from the point and finding extra opportunities. We struggled with that a little bit. I think slowly and progressively over the last four or five games we've been able to cut down on that just a bit. That's helped immensely."

The Senators took five of six points on their three-game road trip and won at New Jersey despite having 16 shots. Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson made 34 saves for his third shutout of the season.

"We came home and it was a quite plane ride," Ryan said. "The guys weren't too happy, but we won and that's the sign of a team that's on the rise, you hope. Whether we liked ourselves in the last game or not, we still came home with five of six [points] and made a pretty good road trip out of it.

"We should have found a way to get six and that's what we were looking at on that road trip. You hope it's a snowball effect and it just continues. That's what would be ideal for us."

The Ducks will be playing their second game in two nights; they won 2-1 at the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday. The Ducks have won eight of their past nine games. They did not skate Friday morning.

Cameron said a key will be limiting the offense provided by the Ducks' defensemen.

"I think they play a lot like Chicago [Blackhawks]," Cameron said. "When their [defensemen] get the puck and have some time and space, their forwards are real good at stretching and finding some open ice. They are really able to expand the area we have to defend against if we don't cut their [defensemen] off. We're going to try and condense the ice with a good forecheck. They're a real good team so it's a great challenge for us."

The Senators play at the Canadiens on Saturday and at the Washington Capitals on Dec. 22 before the holiday break.

The Ducks end a five-game road trip Friday.

Here are the projected lineups:


Rene Bourque - Ryan Getzlaf - Devante Smith-Pelly

Matt Beleskey - Ryan Kesler - Emerson Etem

Andrew Cogliano - Rickard Rakell - Jakob Silfverberg

Patrick Maroon - Nate Thompson - Tim Jackman

Cam Fowler - Ben Lovejoy

Clayton Stoner - Sami Vatanen

Colby Robak - Hampus Lindholm

Ilya Bryzgalov

Frederik Andersen

Scratched: Mark Fistric, Dany Heatley

Injured: Sheldon Souray (wrist), Francois Beauchemin (finger), Eric Brewer (foot), Corey Perry (knee), Kyle Palmieri (shoulder)


Clarke MacArthur - Kyle Turris - Mark Stone

Mike Hoffman - Mika Zibanejad - Bobby Ryan

Erik Condra - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Alex Chiasson

Milan Michalek - David Legwand - Colin Greening

Chris Phillips - Erik Karlsson

Jared Cowen - Cody Ceci

Mark Borowiecki - Eric Gryba

Craig Anderson

Robin Lehner

Scratched: Patrick Wiercioch

Injured: Zack Smith (wrist), Chris Neil (knee), Marc Methot (back/hip)

Status report: Methot, who has played two games this season, aggravated his back/hip injury, Cameron said. No timetable has been set for his return. … Smith, who dislocated his wrist, and Neil, who injured his knee, are out for the long term. Cameron estimated Neil would miss 4-6 weeks. … Anderson will start for the Senators on Friday. With the Senators playing at Montreal on Saturday, it's expected Lehner will start at Bell Centre. … With the Ducks playing the second of back-to-back games, Bryzgalov is expected to start his first game since signing as a free agent Dec. 9. Andersen has started 20 consecutive games. … The Senators will be without forward Curtis Lazar, who was loaned to Canada for the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Who's hot: Turris has two goals and three assists in his past four games. ... Stone has two goals and two assists in his past four games … Getzlaf has two goals and four assists in his past four games.

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