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Jets try to cool off sizzling Senators

by Frank Mentesana

JETS (20-19-5) at SENATORS (25-15-6)


Last 10: Winnipeg 4-6-0; Ottawa 8-1-1

Season Series: This is the third of four meetings between these Eastern Conference foes. The Senators have taken the first two -- one in each team's barn. On Oct. 20 in Ottawa, Milan Michalek had two goals and an assist in a 4-1 victory. On Nov. 29 in Winnipeg, the Senators rallied in the third period to beat the Jets 6-4, as Zack Smith scored a pair of goals -- including the game-winner -- and Michalek posted another two-goal game.

Big Story: The Senators are one of the hottest teams in the League. They are riding a four-game winning streak and have points in their last nine games (8-0-1). Their recent success has bumped them up to fifth in the Eastern Conference with 56 points and into second place in the Northeast Division, just two points behind Boston (though the the Bruins have five games in hand).

The Jets have been heading in the opposite direction, dropping three in a row and five out of their last six. They have yet to claim a regulation win in 2012 after posting the best winning percentage of any month in franchise history in December. Monday's contest in Ottawa marks the beginning of a stretch of 10 out of 13 on the road for Winnipeg, which has fallen out of the playoff picture, sitting in 10th in the East with 45 points.

Team Scope:

Jets: Scoring has become a major concern for the Jets, who haven't scored more than three goals in a game since a 4-1 win at Colorado on Dec. 27. They managed to put only one shot past Martin Brodeur on Saturday afternoon, falling 2-1 to the Devils at home. Andrew Ladd scored his 15th goal of the season to give Winnipeg a 1-0 edge late in the first period, but two third-period goals for New Jersey sent the Jets to their second straight home loss.

"This is not the time to start beating up on this team," said coach Claude Noel, whose team was shut out 2-0 by San Jose on Thursday. "It's not going to happen, not from my standpoint. If people want to do that, that's fine, but it's not going to happen from here.

"We want effort. We wanted to be proud of our effort today and we wanted to work. We wanted to work together, work smart and we got that. That's what we did, so this thing will get itself resolved."

Senators: With a 3-2 shootout win in Montreal on Saturday night, the Senators are now an astonishing 24-10-6 since starting the season 1-5-0. After falling behind 1-0 early in the third, the Sens rallied to take a 2-1 lead on goals by Kyle Turris and Jason Spezza. However, the Habs tied the game in the final minute of regulation, eventually sending the game to a shootout. Daniel Alfredsson scored the lone goal in the tiebreaker, Craig Anderson denied all three Montreal shooters and the Senators improved their road record to 11-7-5.

"That's what good teams do, find ways to win when they don't play great," said Alfredsson, who is a perfect 4-for-4 in shootout attempts this season. "We've been playing some really good hockey here. Today wasn't our best but our goalie kept us in it and gave us a chance, and fortunately he's part of our team too.

"We have a good feeling when games are close, and tonight's another example."

Who's Hot: Spezza and defenseman Erik Karlsson each have four-game point-streaks for the Sens. Anderson has been outstanding, surrendering just three goals on 99 shots over his last three games.

Injury Report: The status of Winnipeg's leading scorer Blake Wheeler is uncertain after a shot hit him in the throat area early in the second period against the Devils. He left the game and went to a local hospital to undergo tests, which the club confirmed came back negative. TSN reports that he is being held for observation for 24 hours and he did not travel with the team to Ottawa. In addition, defenseman Zach Bogosian has missed the last two games with a lower-body injury and is questionable. Fellow blueliners Derek Meech (lower body) and Dustin Byfuglien (knee) are on injured reserve. … Forwards Peter Regin (shoulder) and Jesse Winchester (concussion) remain on IR for Ottawa.

Stat Pack: The Senators improved to 5-2 in shootouts by beating the Canadiens. … The Jets have been outscored 50-27 in the third period this season, including 12-1 this month.

Puck Drop: With some remarkable third-period comebacks this season, the Senators cannot be counted out until the final horn sounds. They lead the League with six wins when trailing after two periods and their record of 6-13-1 in such situations has also yielded the highest winning percentage (.300) in the NHL.

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