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Preview: Senators at Wild

Ottawa looks to gain in Atlantic; Minnesota seeks second win in 11 games

by Jessi Pierce / NHL.com Correspondent

SENATORS (41-25-9) at WILD (44-24-9)

8 p.m. ET; FS-N+, FS-WI, RDS2, TSN5, NHL.TV

 

Senators team scope

The Ottawa Senators are four points behind the Montreal Canadiens for the Atlantic Division lead with one game in hand and have two wins in their past eight games (2-3-3). "If you look at the month of March, you take out the three Montreal games where we were 0-2-1, we're 8-1-2," coach Guy Boucher said. "I think as a group you have to definitely stick to what we do, stay confident in what we do and just make sure that we execute the habits that have given us success." Defenseman Erik Karlsson will be a game-time decision after taking part in the final few minutes of morning skate. Karlsson blocked a shot in a 3-2 shootout loss at the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday. "We play the same way," Boucher said. We're not going to start coming up with new ways to play because [Karlsson's] not there. We've had good players miss all year and we were able to pull through, so we're going to have to be able to pull through that one." Karlsson has played in 324 straight games. If he does not play, Boucher said Jyrki Jokipakka will play for the first time since he was acquired in a trade with the Calgary Flames on March 1. Jokipakka has six points (one goal, five assists) in 38 games but hasn't played since Feb. 5. Goaltender Craig Anderson, who made 33 saves Tuesday, will start.

 

Wild team scope

The Minnesota Wild are 1-7-2 in their past 10 games, and nine points behind the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the Central Division and Western Conference with one game in hand. Goaltender Alex Stalock, who was recalled from Iowa of American Hockey League, will make his first NHL start since Feb. 11, 2016. "You play your whole life and you're always in the net, and then you get to the next level and you're not playing as much, so to get back to playing the game you love is something that I really enjoy," Stalock said. Stalock signed a two-year contract with the Wild in July after five seasons with the San Jose Sharks (2010-16). He is 20-16-7 with 2.31 goals-against average, .924 save percentage and four shutouts in Iowa. Minnesota's No. 1 goaltender Devan Dubnyk, 1-6-1 in his past nine games, will be the backup. Coach Bruce Boudreau said he chose to start Stalock over backup Darcy Kuemper because of a lack of practice. "It's unfair to throw [Kuemper] in as a backup when we haven't had a chance to practice and he plays once every two weeks," Boudreau said. "[Stalock] has done a great job down in Iowa. … Right now, he's one of the better goalies in the American Hockey League, he's playing every day, so he's feeling it."

 

Senators projected lineup

Ryan Dzingel -- Kyle Turris -- Bobby Ryan

Zack Smith -- Derick Brassard -- Mark Stone

Mike Hoffman -- Jean-Gabriel Pageau -- Tom Pyatt

Viktor Stalberg -- Chris Kelly -- Tommy Wingels

Dion Phaneuf -- Cody Ceci

Mark Borowiecki -- Chris Wideman

Fredrik Claesson -- Jyrki Jokipakka

Craig Anderson

Mike Condon

Scratched: Christopher DiDomenico

Injured: Marc Methot (finger), Chris Neil (finger), Clarke MacArthur (concussion), Erik Karlsson (lower body) Alexandre Burrows (upper body)

 

Wild projected lineup

Nino Niederreiter -- Eric Staal -- Chris Stewart

Jason Zucker -- Mikko Koivu -- Mikael Granlund

Charlie Coyle -- Martin Hanzal -- Jason Pominville

Erik Haula -- Joel Eriksson Ek -- Ryan White

Ryan Suter -- Jared Spurgeon

Marco Scandella - Matt Dumba

Jonas Brodin - Christian Folin

Alex Stalock

Devan Dubnyk

Scratched: Jordan Schroeder, Nate Prosser, Darcy Kuemper

Injured: Victor Bartley (arm) Zach Parise (upper body)

 

Status report

Stalberg returns after missing two games. …Boucher said Burrows is day to day. … Parise participated in the morning skate but Boudreau said it is unlikely he will play although he remains a possibility for the weekend.

 

Who's hot

Hoffman has 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in his past 12 games. … Turris has five points (three goals, two assists) in his past four games. … Staal has 11 points (eight goals, three assists) in his past 11 games and five points (three goals, two assists) during a five-game point streak.

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