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Oilers hope to rebound against Sens

by Pete Jensen
SENATORS (9-9-1) at OILERS (9-6-2)


Last 10: Ottawa 5-4-1; Edmonton 6-4-0.

Season Series: Thursday marks the first of two meetings this season between these Canadian counterparts. Last year, the road team prevailed in each of the two head-to-head matchups between the teams, with the Oilers claiming a 4-1 win at Scotiabank Place last November and the Senators returning the favor with a 5-3 triumph at Rexall Place in February.

Big Story: The Senators, winners of two straight, continue their six-game stretch away from home with a trip to Alberta to take on the Oilers. Edmonton, meanwhile, returns to Rexall Place in hope of righting the ship after three consecutive three-goal defeats to close out a six-game road trip of their own.

Team Scope:

Senators: After a five-game winless streak to kick off the month of November, Ottawa has churned out consecutive road wins in Toronto and Calgary.

While the Senators' offense has benefited from multi-goal games from Nick Foligno against the Maple Leafs and Bobby Butler against the Flames, the source of stability during the streak has come from Craig Anderson, who leads the NHL with 17 games played this season. The workhorse netminder stopped 69 of 72 shots in the Sens' two-game win streak.

"It's just the way the schedule's worked out right now," Anderson said. "You earn your ice time. If you play better, you're going to keep playing. You play one game at a time and don't worry about the overall result."

Oilers: Edmonton's six-game win streak from Oct. 22 to Nov. 3 found the Oilers atop the Northwest Division. But a recent three-game road slide has left Tom Renney's squad searching for answers.

With three days of rest leading up to Thursday's home clash with Ottawa, the youthful Oilers are trying to regain their offensive rhythm. Taylor Hall, who has lined up alongside fellow youngster Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for most of the season, has especially struggled over his last eight games -- producing no goals and three assists in that span.

"Taylor's always at his best when he's attacking," Oilers coach Tom Renney told the Edmonton Journal. "But there's a disconnect right now between our defense and our forwards, in terms of retrieving and moving pucks. The greater that gap becomes, the tougher it is to play the game because teams have awfully good checkers in your way."

Who’s Hot: After 15 games without a goal to begin the season, Senators defenseman Sergei Gonchar has two goals and an assist in his last three games. … Ryan Smyth has thrived for Edmonton in his last eight games, tallying eight goals and four assists in that span.

Injury Report: Darcy Hordichuk (knee), Ryan Whitney (knee) and Cam Barker (ankle) are listed on Injured Reserve for Edmonton and will not play. … Matt Carkner (knee), Peter Regin (shoulder) and Chris Neil (ankle) are on IR for the Senators and will not play Thursday.

Stat Pack: Bobby Butler notched his first two goals of the season in the third period of Tuesday's 3-1 win at Calgary. It was the fourth time this season that an Ottawa player scored twice in one period, as Butler joined Milan Michalek (Oct. 7, Oct. 29) and Daniel Alfredsson (Oct. 8).

Puck Drop: "We understand the depth of the people we're playing and the experience they've had with winning and we're still working on that – but there's no excuses," Renney said. "We needed to man up [Sunday] and we didn't do it. If we're better in front of our goaltender in every aspect of the game and pay attention to the detail that's required to set up your offense, our goaltending is going to be good enough every night."

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