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On postseason bubble, Senators host Predators

by Davis Harper

PREDATORS (26-28-10) at SENATORS (28-25-11)


Last 10: Nashville 3-5-2; Ottawa 4-5-1

Season series: This is the second of two games between the Nashville Predators and Ottawa Senators. Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson stopped 32 shots in a 2-1 shootout win against the Predators when these teams last met on Jan. 11 at Bridgestone Arena.

Big story: Two teams in desperate need of points face off Monday at Canadian Tire Centre. The Senators (67 points) remain within striking distance of a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with four points and three teams separating them from the eighth-place Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Predators, 10 points outside of a postseason spot with 18 games to play, have lost four straight in regulation to begin March.

Team Scope:

Predators: Nashville has scored three goals in its four March games, with its shot at the playoffs disintegrating with its offense. It was on display against the Blue Jackets Saturday at Bridgestone Arena, when Sergei Bobrovsky pitched a 28-save shutout to drop the Predators to 1-5-2 in their past eight.

"We're not scoring goals," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "You can look individually up front, we've got some guys who have been pretty dry, point-wise and goal-wise."

Senators: Ottawa center Jason Spezza may have found some chemistry with linemates Milan Michalek and recent acquisition Ales Hemsky.

Skating together for the first time Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets, the trio combined for nine points (one goal, eight assists) in a 5-3 win. After consecutive losses to the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers, the victory also meant a critical two points as the postseason race heats up.

"It's fun again to be in the race," said Hemsky, who last experienced playoff hockey during Edmonton's Stanley Cup Final run in 2006. "I wasn't in the race for a long time, and I love those types of games [where] you play for something. It's a lot of fun, and I'm excited."

Coach Paul MacLean demanded a better effort after the two losses, putting his team through a 90-minute practice this past Friday.

"I thought we played harder as a team in all aspects of the game, and that's what we need to do," MacLean said. "Can we play harder? Yes. We need to still play harder than we did [Saturday], but it's a really good place to start.”

Who's hot: Predators goalie Pekka Rinne has a 2.03 goals-against average and a.922 save percentage in his past three games since returning from a hip injury. … Michalek has five points (one goal, four assists) in his past four games for the Senators.

Injury report: Nashville reports no injuries. … Senators forward Clarke MacArthur (hand) is day-to-day.

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