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Oilers-Senators the start of 'Hockey Day in Canada'

by Brian Hunter
SENATORS (17-30-8) at OILERS (16-30-8)


Last 10:
Ottawa 0-8-2; Edmonton 2-7-1

Season series: Second and final meeting of the 2010-11 season between these teams. Andrew Cogliano sparked a three-goal third period on Nov. 29 to lead Edmonton to a 4-1 win in Ottawa.

Big story: Throw the records out the window, because this is the start of a Hockey Day in Canada tripleheader and it figures to be a spirited atmosphere at Rexall Place. The Oilers have played one fewer game than the Senators this season and with a regulation victory Saturday would move past them in the overall NHL standings via a tiebreaker.

Team Scope:

Senators: Thanks to a 1-13-4 skid that has plummeted Ottawa to the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, a house-cleaning is under way. The Senators dealt center Mike Fisher to the Predators on Thursday for a pair of draft picks, including a first-rounder this June, and other veterans may find themselves on the way out of town before the Feb. 28 trade deadline passes.

"We have some unrestricted (free agents) who would probably like to play in the playoffs," GM Bryan Murray said. "I suspect, if other teams are interested, there will be some conversations (and) there will be some deals. If we're going to follow the plan that we've outlined going forward, we have to make room for some (younger) people. We're going to acquire draft picks if we can and give ourselves a chance to pick as high as we can in this year's draft and get good assets for the organization.

Oilers: It stands to reason Edmonton will be adding another high pick to its cadre of young talent when the 2011 Entry Draft takes place this summer in Minnesota, and the rebuilding of the Oilers has been front and center of late. Devan Dubnyk recorded his first NHL shutout earlier in the week against playoff contender Nashville and Jordan Eberle scored the Oilers' lone goal in a 4-1 loss to the Blackhawks on Wednesday. Eberle has 11 goals and 28 points in his rookie season while Taylor Hall, the No. 1 pick in 2010, has 17 goals and is tied for the team lead with 34 points.

"You have to stay level," Dubnyk said about what he's learning as his workload increases. "You can't get so high off a big win that there's a letdown the next game, and you can't get too low if you don't play very well. At the same time, any time you can take any sort of confidence and carry it on to the next game, you try to do it for sure."

Who's hot:
Senators defenseman Chris Campoli has 2 goals and 4 assists in his last four games. … Eberle has 2 goals and 3 assists in his last four games for the Oilers, while Dustin Penner has 4 goals in his last six games.

Injury report:
Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson is out indefinitely while resting a balky lower back. Forward Jesse Winchester is out with a knee injury. Goaltender Pascal Leclaire (lower body) is on injured reserve. … Edmonton defenseman Ryan Whitney (ankle) and forward Gilbert Brule (abdomen/ankle) are on injured reserve.

Stat pack:
Fisher was drafted by the Senators in 1998 and played 675 games with the club, totaling 167 goals and 348 points. He was part of the 2007 team that made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final.

"Giving up Mike is hard, especially for those who have been around a long time with him," Alfredsson said. "He's done a lot for the team and the community. He's been a big part of what we accomplished in the past. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to play the way we've been capable of and we all know the reality that comes along with it."

Puck drop:
Hockey fans with access to the CBC will be in for a long and enjoyable day, as this game will be followed by Toronto visiting Montreal at 7 p.m. ET, and Calgary facing off with Vancouver at 10 p.m.

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