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Ottawa Senators vs. Calgary Flames @NHLdotcom
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GAME: Ottawa Senators (37-18-9-5) at Calgary Flames (34-26-6-3).

TIME: Thursday, 9 p.m. EST.

The Ottawa Senators haven't played since Monday. They were far from idle off the ice.

The Senators are expected to have defenseman Greg de Vries, acquired before Tuesday's trade deadline, in the lineup when they take on the Calgary Flames in search of their third straight win.

Ottawa continued to strengthen its lineup for a run at the Stanley Cup with the trade for de Vries, 31, a steady veteran presence whom the Senators picked up from the New York Rangers for defenseman Karel Rachunek and prospect Alexandre Giroux.

"It was a very productive day," Ottawa general manager John Muckler said. "We went through so many highs and lows. We were disappointed a few times, but everything worked out for the best. Some of our main competition in our conference was there (vying for de Vries)."

Ottawa, which made its biggest deal Feb. 18 when it acquired forward Peter Bondra from Washington, also sent rugged defenseman Shane Hnidy to Nashville on Wednesday for a 2004 third-round draft pick.

Already one of the NHL's top defensive clubs, the Senators now boast Chris Phillips, Wade Redden, Zdeno Chara and de Vries as their top four defensemen.

"It gives us a defenseman who has some offense to him, he has some defense, he can be an aggressive hockey player - he competes well," Muckler said of de Vries. "He's a character guy and a Stanley Cup winner."

De Vries will be joining a team in the midst of a five-game road trip and focused on the Northeast Division and Eastern Conference titles. Tampa Bay leads the East, with Philadelphia, Toronto, Ottawa and Boston pushing for the lead. The Senators and Maple Leafs are tied atop the Northeast, with the Bruins one point back.

Ottawa defeated Washington 4-1 on Monday night in the opener of its five-game trip. Bondra, the Capitals' career scoring leader, had his five-game point streak snapped in his first game at the MCI Center as a visiting player.

Patrick Lalime made 13 saves for the Senators, a big improvement after allowing nine goals in his two previous starts. The win was just his second in six starts.

Calgary, one of four teams battling for the last three playoff spots in the West, is in sixth place after a 1-1 tie with Edmonton on Tuesday night.

The Flames' Ville Nieminen scored at 2:33 of the third period, but Shawn Horcoff prevented Calgary from picking up two points with a goal at 9:53. Miikka Kiprusoff continued his outstanding season for the Flames with 27 saves.

"We played really hard tonight. We were a desperate team, just like they were and we broke even," Nieminen said. "It was a little disappointing, especially for our part that we didn't get two points but there's nothing we can do about it now."

STANDINGS (through March 9): Senators - 88 points, 1st place (tied), Northeast Division. Flames - 77 points, 3rd place, 10 PB, Northwest Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Senators - Marian Hossa, 30 goals and 73 points; Daniel Alfredsson, 44 assists; Chris Neil, 155 PIM. Flames - Jarome Iginla, 35 goals and 62 points; Craig Conroy, 31 assists; Chris Simon, 225 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 9): Senators - Power play: 22.5 percent (74 for 329), 2nd in NHL. Penalty killing: 83.8 percent (249 for 297), 17th (tied). Flames - Power play: 15.2 percent (47 for 309), 22nd. Penalty killing: 83.8 percent (249 for 297), 17th (tied).

GOALTENDERS: Senators - Lalime (23-19-7, 3 SO, 2.29 GAA); Martin Prusek (13-4-2, 3, 1.86). Flames - Kiprusoff (18-7-3, 2, 1.63); Roman Turek (4-10-0, 1, 2.68).

SEASON SERIES: Senators, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Feb. 21; Senators, 2-1. At Ottawa, Martin Havlat scored the tiebreaking goal 2:26 into the third period and Turek stopped 22 shots for the Flames.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Senators - 15-11-4-1 on the road; Flames - 17-12-5-1 at home.

Associated Press
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