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Hurricanes try to end slide against Senators

by Mike Battaglino

SENATORS (9-10-4) at HURRICANES (8-10-5)


Last 10: Ottawa 5-4-1; Carolina 4-4-2

Season series: This is the first of three games. The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Ottawa Senators twice in the first nine games of last season before losing to them April 16.

Big story: Each team had to travel to Raleigh, N.C., after playing Saturday. Carolina lost 3-2 in overtime to the Boston Bruins during the afternoon, its fourth loss in a row overall and sixth straight on the road. Ottawa won at night, 4-2 against the Detroit Red Wings, to end a three-game losing streak and a four-of-five skid.

"We've been getting better slowly," coach Paul MacLean told the Senators website. "A lot of times, when you're coming out of something, you lose a couple games you should win, and when you're going into one you win a couple that you maybe shouldn't win. I think tonight was a case of us, we hope, coming out of not finding ourselves and establishing our game, and we'll see if it's a good sign tomorrow night."

Team Scope:

Senators: Ottawa ended a 1-4-0 stretch Saturday but is seven points out of third place in the Atlantic Division; before the slide, the Senators were four back.

"[Detroit was] a divisional team and a team that were chasing," captain Jason Spezza said. "We have to try to pick up points. We've put ourselves a little bit behind the eight-ball by being under .500 and we have to get on a bit of a run and win some games and try to get ourselves back in a playoff position."

Each team had eight power plays Saturday, causing ice time to be distributed unevenly.

"I think the game being the way it was, it was a lot of special teams, so it's not as quick a game as maybe some nights," said Spezza, who played 7:32 of his 17:37 on the power play. "So another big one for us tomorrow and we'll get right back at it."

Robin Lehner made 34 saves, but MacLean said he would decide Sunday if Lehner or Craig Anderson would start.

Hurricanes: Carolina has scored four shorthanded goals in its past four games, by Andrej Sekera, Eric Staal, Nathan Gerbe and Patrick Dwyer (Saturday). That equals the number of power-play goals the Hurricanes have allowed in 16 times down over the same time.

"The shorthanders are picking up their goals here with their speed and all that," coach Kirk Muller told the Hurricanes' website. "Just all and all, special teams came up big, which is good for the guys."

Justin Peters may be in goal after Cam Ward made 35 saves in his second start since returning from a knee injury, each against Boston.

"I felt really comfortable, probably the most comfortable I have felt all year," Ward said, according to The Sports Xchange. "And I would like to look at the positives of that and build. … But you play to win hockey games and I want to win more than anything. We will shoot for that tomorrow."

Who's hot: Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson has six points in a five-game streak. Forward Clarke MacArthur has five points in his past three games. … Defenseman Sekera has three goals in his past two games. Forward Staal has a point in five straight. Forward Jeff Skinner had an assist Saturday for his first point since Oct. 19; he was injured Oct. 24 and returned Thursday.

Injury report: The Senators report no injuries. … Hurricanes defenseman Jay Harrison (illness) has missed three straight games. Forward Alexander Semin (concussion) and goalie Anton Khudobin (lower body) are on injured reserve.

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