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Hurricanes hope to avoid Senators' spoiler attempt

by Eric Goodman

SENATORS (27-36-9) at HURRICANES(33-29-10)


Last 10:
Ottawa 6-4-0; Carolina 4-5-1

Season series:
The Senators and Hurricanes will wrap up their four-game season series Tuesday in Raleigh. The teams split the games in Ottawa, while the Hurricanes won 7-1 in the other game played at RBC Center this season. Carolina will look to extend its home winning streak over the Senators to seven games.

Big story: The Hurricanes are fighting for their playoff lives, while the Senators will continue to try and spoil all of their opponents' chances at the postseason as they play out the final string of the 2010-11 campaign. The Eastern Conference's ninth-place Hurricanes (76 points) will need to gain ground on the eighth-place Buffalo Sabres (79 points), as both clubs have 10 games left to play on their respective schedules. Carolina has missed the playoffs the past two seasons.

Team Scope:

Senators: With consecutive wins over the Devils last Thursday and the Lightning this past Saturday, the Senators are refusing to go quietly into the offseason. But now that it has no shot at this year's playoffs, all Ottawa can do is get a closer look at players that will return for next season and assess which direction the club is heading in.

One decision toward the future was made on Monday as Senators GM Bryan Murray announced that they signed goalie Craig Anderson to a four-year contract extension.

"We feel he's brought stability," Murray told reporters at Monday's press conference. "The (goaltending) position is one that we need if we're going to retool, rebuild and improve this hockey team going forward."

Hurricanes: Losing five of its last seven games has put Carolina on the steep uphill point on the road towards the final playoff berth in the East, but the good news is that they have one more head-to-head matchup against the eighth-place Sabres coming up on April 3. But before the Canes can get ahead of themselves, they will need to concentrate on beating the teams that reside behind them in the standings.

Carolina would like to build off Friday's 3-2 overtime win against the New York Islanders, a game Erik Cole tied with less than five minutes left in regulation and later won on a Joni Pitkanen goal in the extra period.

"It was really important as a team that you can find that desperation level, and we found it," coach Paul Maurice told reporters after the game. "To be able to change gears and have some good things start happening is really important, because now we know it's there."

Injury report: Daniel Alfredsson (lower back), Matt Carkner (lower body), Milan Michalek (left foot), and Pascal Leclaire (lower body) are all out indefinitely for the Senators, while center Peter Regin is out for the season with a shoulder injury. And despite the big news on Anderson's contract signing, the American goaltender has missed Ottawa's last two games with an undisclosed lower body injury. Backup Curtis McElhinney has been in net for both of the Sens' last two victories. … It's possible that Carolina rookie defenseman Jamie McBain (shoulder) could miss the remainder of this season.

Who's hot: Goalie Cam Ward has won two of his last three starts for Carolina, with 91 saves and a 1.66 goals against average over that span. … For the Senators, Jason Spezza will try to extend his points streak to three games. The All-Star center has also tallied points in four of his last five games with 4 goals and 4 assists over that span. McElhinney has filled in fine in Anderson's abscence with 71 total saves and a 1.50 GAA in two straight wins.

Stat pack: If Carolina can manage at least three goals on Tuesday, then statistics predict it will have a very good chance at getting some much needed points vs. the Senators. The Hurricanes have a 27-3-4 record when scoring at least three goals in a game this season.

Puck drop:
While Ottawa has experienced a disappointing 2010-11 season, it has plenty of reasons to look on the bright side. With the contract extension for Anderson, the Sens now have a bona-fide All-Star caliber player between the pipes.

"Andy's come in and played great for us," Spezza said at Monday's press conference. "Just to get a guy like him locked up and not let him go to free agency is a big move for the franchise."

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