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Cup Final rematch sees Senators, Ducks playing well

by Corey Masisak
SENATORS (27-16-6) at DUCKS (16-22-7)


Last 10:
Ottawa 8-1-1; Anaheim 6-3-1

Season Series:
This is the lone meeting between the teams that met in the 2007 Stanley Cup Final. Anaheim has won three of the four matchups since defeating Ottawa in five games to claim the Cup. The past two meetings have gone to a shootout and the teams have split them.

Big Story: Two surging teams will meet in Anaheim -- the Ducks are trying to rebound from a terrible start while the Senators are trying to prove their surprising first half wasn't a surprise.

Team Scope:

Preseason prognostications are often wrong, but it is pretty rare that the consensus about a team can be so far off like it was this season with the Senators. A self-subscribed rebuilding club, Ottawa was picked to finish either last or close to last in the Eastern Conference by pretty much every media publication.

After a wildly inconsistent start to the season, the Senators have surged toward the top of the East. Ottawa is 13-2-2 since a loss Dec. 15 against Boston. If the Senators defeat the Ducks and the Bruins lose in regulation Saturday to the New York Rangers, Ottawa will be in first place in the Northeast Division and second in the East. The Senators have played more games than the other contenders, but they're also winning way more than anyone expected.

It was a bad start to the season for the Ducks, but that is nothing new in Anaheim. The difference from last season is the Ducks most likely took too long to recover. Anaheim is 6-0-1 since a loss Jan. 4 to San Jose, and the lone loss was a 1-0 overtime defeat.

The Ducks were 20 points back of eighth place in the West after the loss to the Sharks, but the current hot streak has them within 13 points with three games in hand. A favorable schedule between now and an eight-game road trip that starts Feb. 10 could leave Anaheim with a sliver of hope -- not unlike what happened with the New Jersey Devils last season.

Who's Hot:
Craig Anderson did not start the first game of this run for Ottawa, but he's been in net for each of the past 16 contests. He's 10-1-1 since Dec. 30 with two shutouts and Anderson is currently working on a string of six straight starts with a save percentage of at least .943. … Secondary scoring was a huge problem for the Ducks earlier this season, but Jason Blake's return from a severed tendon in his wrist has helped -- he's got 8 points in the past seven games while playing mostly on the team's third line.

Injury Report:
Ottawa forwards Peter Regin (shoulder) and Jesse Winchester (concussion) are out indefinitely. Zack Smith and Kaspars Daugavins both left the game Thursday at San Jose with injuries. … Anaheim rookie forward Devante Smith-Pelly is out with a broken rib that occurred in the World Junior Championship, and backup goaltender Dan Ellis is out with a groin injury.

Stat Pack:
Kyle Turris has 13 points in 16 games since joining the Senators in a trade from the Phoenix Coyotes. He had 12 points in his final 39 games with the Coyotes. … Corey Perry helped carry the Ducks back into playoff contention last season with a monster second half. He's got seven goals in the past eight games.

Puck Drop:
"At the beginning of the season, when the teams would score, you could see things bad happening right after. And now with guys scoring and just us playing better defensively all around, you can tell that we're just more confident. I think that's the main thing. Confidence is in play. A lot of guys just play better. Hopefully this is the start of a good thing for us." -- Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano on the team's recent turnaround

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