RED WINGS (18-8-9) at SENATORS (14-14-6)
TV: CBC, TVA, FS-D
OTTAWA -- Jimmy Howard will be back in goal Saturday for the Detroit Red Wings when they play the Ottawa Senators and try to win consecutive games for the first time since Dec. 6-7.
The Red Wings snapped a six-game losing streak (0-2-4) with a 6-3 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday.
Howard has been out of action for a week with a groin injury since leaving the Red Wings 2-1 loss to the New York Islanders after one period Dec. 19.
He said the Christmas break should work to his advantage and welcomed the morning skate at Canadian Tire Centre as an opportunity to shake off the rust.
"Very much so," he said. "I don't think I'm in any different position that anybody else is in right now. Everybody else had three days off. Whether guys decided to work out, that was up to them. I feel no different than anyone else right now.
"I think everyone is pretty much in the same boat. Even though I didn't play any games, I was practicing prior to the break, so I don't think I'm any different than anyone else here tonight."
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock was asked if he was happy with the way the team has played despite the record lately. Four of the six losses came in the shootout, but Detroit scored six goals during the skid before breaking out against the Sabres.
"I like winning. So, no, you like to win. We come to the rink every day wanting to win," Babcock said. "We had no more scoring chances against Buffalo than we did the game before when we didn't score. I think sometimes when it goes in, it goes in. Bounces.
"But I also think it's important we play as a heavier team and spend more time in front of the net, (be) harder on pucks in the offensive zone. The more time you spend there, the more goals you're going to score. We've got work to do."
Howard is happy with what he's seen from the Red Wings.
"I think the only part that hasn't really gone great for us is the shootout," Howard said. "Other than that, I think we've played some really good hockey. We ran into a couple of goalies who were playing really well for their teams. I think we've been doing a great job. We have continued to stay right there at the top and found ways to pick up points. It's just the shootout for some reason hasn't been very kind to us."
The Senators are looking to snap a two-game losing streak, the first under coach Dave Cameron, who took over from Paul MacLean on Dec. 8.
The Senators are coming off a 2-1 loss to the Washington Capitals on Monday despite outshooting their opponent 39-23, the sixth time in 34 games the Senators have outshot an opponent this season.
The Senators are 3-3-1 under Cameron. They were 11-11-5 under MacLean.
"I think this game is all about winning and losing, but at the same time, the process is what gets you those wins," Senators goaltender Craig Anderson said.
"If you're doing things right and you're playing the right way, the process usually will probably work out in your favor more times than not. That was the case last game for us. We didn't get the end result, but if we play like we did against on Monday against Washington on a consistent basis, we'll have more wins than losses."
While Cameron said he'd like to see the Senators build on how they played against the Capitals, he said that will be a challenge because of the schedule.
"It's probably a little harder after four days off," he said. "Certainly that's how you build your team all year is you do some good things and you just continue to build on them and build on them, knowing over the 82 games there's going to be bumps in the road. Other good teams are going to force you not to be good on some nights. We're always looking to build on good games and momentum. It's something we try to do all year, but it'll be a little harder with the gap, for sure."
Here are the projected lineups:
Henrik Zetterberg – Pavel Datsyuk – Justin Abdelkader
Tomas Tatar – Riley Sheahan – Stephen Weiss
Johan Franzen – Darren Helm – Gustav Nyquist
Tomas Jurco – Luke Glendening – Drew Miller
Niklas Kronwall – Jonathan Ericsson
Danny DeKeyser – Kyle Quincey
Brendan Smith – Jakub Kindl
Scratched: Daniel Cleary, Brian Lashoff, Joakim Andersson
Injured: Jonas Gustavsson (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
Mark Borowiecki - Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen - Cody Ceci
Patrick Wiercioch - Eric Gryba
Scratched: Chris Phillips
Injured: Zack Smith (wrist), Chris Neil (knee), Marc Methot (back/hip)
Status report: Lehner missed the morning skate because he wasn't feeling well, said Cameron, but he's expected to back up Anderson. … Phillips, the Senators alternate captain, will be a healthy scratch for the fourth time in eight games under Cameron. When asked what the veteran defenseman had to do to get back in the lineup, Cameron said, "Just be Chris Phillips. We're just using our depth." … Kronwall will play Saturday after taking a hit to the head and leaving the game against the Sabres. "I feel good. I just got dinged a little bit. It wasn't much more than that," Kronwall said. … With Howard returning, the Red Wings assigned goaltender Tom McCollum to the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League.
Who's hot: Condra has two goals in his past two games. … Zetterberg has two goals and two assists in his past three games.