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Jackets ring out 2010 by hosting Senators

by Sergei J. Feldman /

SENATORS (16-18-4) at BLUE JACKETS (18-15-3)

TV -- SNET-East (HD), FS-Ohio (HD)

Last 10 -- Ottawa 4-4-2; Columbus 3-5-2

Season series -- This is the first and only meeting of the season between the Sens and Blue Jackets. The teams last met in November 2009, with the Senators winning 2-1 at Ottawa on goals by Jason Spezza and Nick Foligno.

Big story -- The Senators will look to avoid closing the month of December with a two-game losing streak after a 4-0 loss at home to Carolina on Wednesday. The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, bring a two-game winning streak back to Nationwide Arena after winning 3-2 at Toronto on Thursday.

Team Scope:

Senators -- Jason Spezza has a lot of detractors among Ottawa fans. But they may want to reconsider after the Spezza-less Senators were shut out at home by the Hurricanes on Wednesday. Spezza is expected to miss at least four weeks after going down with a shoulder injury in Sunday's 3-1 win against Pittsburgh.

Spezza "is a big piece of our puzzle here," forward Nick Foligno said. "It hurts not to have him in the lineup, but we know we have guys on this team that can get the job done."

Blue Jackets -- Thursday's win against the Maple Leafs was an important one for the Jackets, and this game is no less important for a team that starts January with a four-game road trip and is trying to stay in the tightly packed Western Conference playoff race.

"We needed this," coach Scott Arniel said of the win in Toronto. "We're leaving on a big road trip out West. To get a rod win here kind of helps us a little bit in that direction."

Who's hot -- Kristian Huselius is coming off an impressive two-goal effort against Toronto and will look to contribute with points in three straight games against the Sens. … The Sens have benefited from the strong play of Chris Kelly, who has collected points in three of his past five games and has helped an otherwise struggling offensive unit.

Injury report -- In addition to Spezza, goalie Pascal Leclaire is also questionable with a lower body injury. Columbus enters the game with a healthy lineup.

Stat pack -- The Senators are one of four teams who have a defenseman leading the team in scoring, as Erik Karlsson leads the way with 23 points, one more than captain Daniel Alfredsson. Phoenix, Atlanta and Edmonton are the others.

Puck drop -- Though he wasn't severely tested in Toronto, the Blue Jackets had to be happy with the performance of third-year goaltender Steve Mason in the win against the Leafs. Mason stopped 20 of 22 shots after turning aside 37 of 40 in a 4-3 shootout win against Minnesota on Monday. The Jackets are part of the mass of teams scrambling for a playoff berth in the West, and they need Mason to play like the Calder Trophy winner he was in 2008-09 if they hope to get into the top eight.

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