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Improving Senators drop in on Thrashers

by Matthew Mankiewich
SENATORS (21-33-9) at THRASHERS (26-27-11)

TV -- SNET-E (HD), FS-South (HD)

Last 10 --
Ottawa 4-5-1, Atlanta 2-6-2

Season series --
Two out of the four are already in the books, both in Ottawa and split between the two teams. One thing that bodes well for an Atlanta team desperate for points is the three-game home winning streak it holds against the Senators, scoring six goals in each win.

Team scope:

Senators -- Don't be surprised, though, if the Sens put the brakes on the Thrashers' output against them. Newly acquired goalie Craig Anderson has flourished in Ottawa red, posting a 1.19 goals-against average while going 3-2-0, one of those losses a 1-0 squeaker to the Bruins on Tuesday, giving the B's a perfect 6-0 road trip and ending the Sens' two-game home winning streak.

"He played outstanding," Nick Foligno said. "He was very good for us and we're really happy he's behind us."

Anderson was impressed with the play in front of him, including the newcomers called up to fill out the roster post-trade deadline.

"Everyone is playing hard," he told the Ottawa Citizen. "We made some big backdoor stops, blocks by our defensemen and our forwards coming back. It’s good to see guys really buying in and working as hard as they possibly can to make sure that we always have a chance to win."

Thrashers --
They added Radek Dvorak, Ben Maxwell and Rob Schremp at the deadline, but the new additions didn't change much against the Canadiens on Tuesday. The Thrashers threw 41 pucks at the net, the fourth game in a row they had 40 or more shots, but only one went in. Only five others have made it to the back of the net in the three previous games, the 6-for-171 ratio yielding a 3.5 percent success rate. Naturally, that doesn't result in a lot of points, either, with only an overtime win against the Maple Leafs and a shootout loss to the Panthers to show for their efforts. Overall, they've lost six of seven and are now six points behind eighth-seeded Carolina.

"It's a tough one. Again, I think we played pretty good," goalie Chris Mason told the Thrashers' official website. "I think early in the game we made a couple of turnovers and they cost us."

Who's hot --
Senators scoring leader Jason Spezza was kept off the board by the Bruins along with the rest of his team, but he still has 6 points in his last four games and 10 in his last eight. … Mason has had little to show for a strong effort the last three games, a 1-1-1 record despite a 1.45 GAA.

Injury report --
Mason has seen so much action lately because Ondrej Pavelec injured his wrist Friday against the Panthers and will be out indefinitely, though he did practice for half an hour on Wednesday. Thrashers forward Patrice Cormier is day-to-day with an upper-body injury, while Alex Burmistrov (foot) has missed seven games without a set return date. Center Jim Slater (concussion) is still weeks away. … Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson (back) has been out nine games and is still hoping to return before the end of the season, which is unlikely for forward Milan Michalek, who took a Jason Spezza slap shot in the foot last Saturday. Center Peter Regin's injured left shoulder will likely keep him out the rest of the season as well.

Stat pack --
Anderson also has a good record against the Thrashers, going 4-1-1 over his career with a 2.47 GAA and a 4-2 win on Dec. 10 while playing for Colorado, making 24 saves. The Sens have gone 4-3-1 since an 11-game losing streak all but knocked them out of playoff contention. Forward Bobby Butler has experienced a three-game scoring drought after netting five goals in the previous five games.

Puck drop --
"You have to understand. Had I been younger going through that, it would have been tougher. You always want to play but I have a better understanding of how the game works and what I have to do when I’m not playing. You have to be ready because you never know when you are going to get the chance again." -- Mason in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on staying ready while Pavelec started 27 of 34 games

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