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At the Rink: Jets at Senators

by Chris Stevenson

OTTAWA -- Ottawa Senators forward Bobby Ryan will be a game-time decision and goaltender Craig Anderson will start his third straight game Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets.

Senators coach Paul MacLean said Ryan "took a whack" near the end of the game against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday.

Anderson is coming off wins against the Detroit Red Wings and the Minnesota Wild when he stopped 66 of 67 shots. His .948 save percentage is the best in the NHL.

It's the first time this season a Senators goaltender has started three games in a row.

"It's going to be a long year," Anderson said. "There's going to be games where you play two or three in a row and the other guy might play two, three in a row. It's just kind of the way things go.

"When you get momentum you just kind of want to stick with it and keep playing well. You earn your ice time. When you play well you earn more ice time. That goes for goalies, defensemen, forwards. You play well and you're going to get in there. We've got back-to-back games coming up here so it's just a matter of which one we were going to split."

Senators coach Paul MacLean had been splitting the workload between Anderson and Robin Lehner down the middle until this week.

The Senators play the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday when they end a four-game homestand and Lehner is expected to get the start.

The game against the Maple Leafs was rescheduled from Oct. 22, the day of the shootings on Parliament Hill.

The game Saturday matches teams that have been pleasant surprises this season. The Senators are 4-0-2 at home and the Jets are 5-0-2 in their past seven games after a 2-5-0 start. Each team is 6-2-2 in its past 10 games.

A big reason for each team's success has been the play of its goaltenders. The Jets' Ondrej Pavelec is 4-0-2 in his past six games.

Before they lost 4-3 in a shootout to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday, the Jets had allowed one goal in three games.

"We're playing a team that I think right now is playing a lot like we are," Jets coach Paul Maurice said. "They're playing a hard defensive game. They've got a lot of bodies on the right side of the puck, they finish their checks, they're pretty efficient in how they move the puck.

"I don't expect this one to be up and down the ice. I don't think is going to be a track meet like [the Penguins game], not that either team lacks speed. I think they're both trying to be really conscientious about playing a solid game."

Left wing Evander Kane said, "[The Senators] work hard and they stick to their game plan pretty well."

That could be a description of the Jets too.

Under Maurice, who was hired as coach in January, the Jets are starting to establish an identity as a hard-working team that doesn't allow much.

Jets forward Blake Wheeler described them as "an ugly group of guys that are going to work harder than everyone else on the ice."

The Jets' opponent Saturday has been stingy too.

Anderson said the Senators have doing a better job of protecting the middle of the ice, which has made his job easier.

"I would say that a good amount of our success is limiting the second opportunities. Protecting the middle of the ice and not allowing teams Grade-A chances is part of it," Anderson said. "When shots are taken more from the outside, a goalie's got a better chance of controlling the rebound and putting it in a location where you can either freeze it or put it in a location where we can get it back. When you start giving up shots from the middle, pucks tend to find the opponents' sticks for second and third opportunities.

"Any time there has been some garbage the last few games we've been able to find it. The [defensemen] have done a great job in terms of protecting the net."

Here are the projected lineups:

JETS

Evander Kane - Mark Scheifele - Blake Wheeler

Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Michael Frolik

Mathieu Perreault - Adam Lowry - Dustin Byfuglien

TJ Galiardi - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn

Toby Enstrom - Zach Bogosian

Mark Stuart - Jacob Trouba

Grant Clitsome - Paul Postma

Ondrej Pavelec

Michael Hutchinson

Scratched: Adam Pardy, Matt Halischuk.

Injured: Anthony Peluso (upper body).

SENATORS

Clarke MacArthur - Kyle Turris - Bobby Ryan

Milan Michalek - Mika Zibanejad - Alex Chiasson

Mike Hoffman - Curtis Lazar - Mark Stone

Zack Smith - David Legwand - Chris Neil

Mark Borowiecki - Erik Karlsson

Jared Cowen - Cody Ceci

Patrick Wiercioch - Eric Gryba

Craig Anderson

Robin Lehner

Scratched: Colin Greening, Erik Condra.

Injured: Chris Phillips (lower body), Marc Methot (back/hip).

Status report: Phillips will be a game-time decision. He missed the game against the Wild. … The Jets are expected to have the same lineup that played against the Penguins on Thursday.

Who's hot: Stone has a five-game point streak (two goals, three assists). … MacArthur has a goal in each of the past two games. … Wheeler has a goal and four assists in the past two games. … Kane has a goal and two assists in the past two games.

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