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Minor injury sidelines Senators veteran Phillips

by Craig Merz

COLUMBUS -- Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean said veteran Chris Phillips has played a major part in the development of rookie defense partner Cody Ceci in Ceci's first 20 NHL games.

But Phillips, Ottawa's active leader in games played (1,122), won't be in the lineup Tuesday when the Senators play the Columbus Blue Jackets in Nationwide Arena. He suffered what MacLean called a minor injury in the previous game at the Carolina Hurricanes and will be replaced by Patrick Wiercioch.

"A reason a young player can come up and have the success that he has is because [Ceci] gets to play with a guy like Chris Phillips," MacLean said.

Ceci, a native of Ottawa and the Senators' first pick (No. 15) in the 2012 NHL Draft, has one goal, four assists and a plus-2 rating in 20 games.

"I've enjoyed my time here," Ceci said. "The older guys have really helped me out."

MacLean also said Craig Anderson will start in goal against the Blue Jackets. Robin Lehner gave up five goals on 22 shots through two periods against the Hurricanes before being relieved by Anderson in the 6-3 loss for the Senators, who are 0-1-1 in the past two games.

Both Ottawa (22-20-10) and the Blue Jackets (26-22-4) are on winless streaks thanks to defeats at Carolina.

Columbus followed a 5-2 home loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday that ended an eight-game win streak by blowing a 2-0 lead in the final nine minutes Monday when the Hurricanes scored three times.

The losses put a sense of urgency on the Blue Jackets, who also play at home Thursday against the Washington Capitals and Saturday against the Florida Panthers before a three-game trip that will see them face all three California clubs to complete the pre-Sochi Olympics schedule.

"We need to bounce back," Columbus coach Todd Richards said. "We're close to 30 games left. Everyone's in the same boat. All you have to do is look at the standings to see what's going on. What you can't do is lose too many in a row."

Columbus will go with backup goaltender Curtis McElhinney, making his first start in nine games since Jan. 11, although he did relieve Sergei Bobrovsky in the Buffalo game.

The other change is the return of right wing Blake Comeau after missing eight games with a sprained knee. He has three goals and eight assists in 43 games. He also is third on the team with 131 hits.

Comeau will replace right wing Corey Tropp and team with left wing Derek MacKenzie, who has goals in three straight games, and center Mark Letestu, who has four goals in eight games.

"They're both playing really well right now," Comeau said of his linemates. "I'm going to go let them do their thing, do what they're doing and try to go out and create some energy. I'm going to try and jump on board with them."

Blue Jackets defenseman David Savard will miss his third straight game because of illness.

Here are the projected lineups:


Clarke MacArthur - Kyle Turris - Bobby Ryan

Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Colin Greening

Cory Conacher - Mika Zibanejad - Erik Condra

Zack Smith - Stephane Da Costa - Chris Neil

Jared Cowen - Erik Karlsson

Patrick Wiercioch - Cody Ceci

Marc Methot - Eric Gryba

Craig Anderson

Robin Lehner

Scratched: Matt Kassian, Joe Corvo

Injured: Mark Stone (upper body), Chris Phillips (lower body)


Nick Foligno - Ryan Johansen - RJ Umberger

Boone Jenner - Artem Anisimov - Nathan Horton

Matt Calvert - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson

Derek MacKenzie - Mark Letestu - Blake Comeau

Fedor Tyutin - Jack Johnson

Ryan Murray - James Wisniewski

Nikita Nikitin - Cody Goloubef

Curtis McElhinney

Sergei Bobrovsky

Scratched: David Savard, Tim Erixon, Corey Tropp

Injured: Marian Gaborik (broken collarbone), Jared Boll (ankle surgery)

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