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Senators after fifth straight win as they face Avalanche

by Brian Hunter

SENATORS (19-18-7) at AVALANCHE (26-12-4)


Last 10: Ottawa 6-3-1; Colorado 4-3-3

Season series: This is the first of two games between the Ottawa Senators and Colorado Avalanche. The teams haven't faced each other since Oct. 13, 2011, when Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog each had a goal and an assist to lead Colorado in a 7-1 rout in Ottawa.

Big story: As the Senators welcome Jason Spezza back to the lineup and shoot for a season-high fifth straight win, they'll have the No. 1 pick from the 2013 NHL Draft to contend with -- and he's red-hot. Nathan MacKinnon is strengthening his bid for the Calder Trophy with consecutive two-goal games and has seven goals in as many games. He leads all rookies with 28 points and his next goal will tie him with injured San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl for first place among rookies.

Team Scope:

Senators: The current winning streak has pushed Ottawa right back into the pack, as they're within striking distance of both the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs in the Atlantic Division for one of the Eastern Conference's two wild-card berths into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Senators opened a four-game road trip with a game that brought back a little nostalgia from their 2013 postseason run, as they visited the Montreal Canadiens. Taking a page from their five-game ouster of the Habs last spring, the Senators claimed a 4-3 overtime win on a power-play goal by Clarke MacArthur.

"It's going to be a good challenge," forward Kyle Turris said in the Ottawa Citizen of the western portion of this swing that also features stops in Nashville and Minnesota. "We've been playing better lately and it's going to be a better test for us now that we have kind of gotten on a bit of a roll."

Avalanche: Two dates remain on a seven-game homestand for Colorado, which had a three-game winning streak snapped Monday by the Calgary Flames. An opponent that entered having scored just one goal inits past four games was able to score four times on just 19 shots against Jean-Sebastien Giguere.

MacKinnon did his part to try to carry the Avalanche, turning a 1-0 deficit in the first period into a 2-1 lead before the intermission by scoring a pair of power-play goals in a span of 7:15. Paul Stastny assisted on both goals and added one of his own in the third.

"No easy game in this League. We have to learn this sometimes the hard way," Giguere said in the Denver Post. "You beat some good teams, and after that you have a day off and come out against a team that's behind you in the standings [and] sometimes it's hard to get going. As a group we have to find a way to win those games."

Who's hot: MacArthur has goals in three straight games for the Senators, including consecutive game-winners. Mika Zibanejad has two goals and two assists during a three-game point streak. … Landeskog has three goals and five assists during a seven-game point streak for the Avalanche. Stastny has one goal and four assists in his past two games.

Injury report: Spezza (hip) returns for Ottawa, which remains without forward Chris Neil (lower body). … Colorado defenseman Nate Guenin (ankle) and forward Ryan O'Reilly (shoulder) are day-to-day and won't play against Ottawa. Forwards Alex Tanguay (hip) and PA Parenteau (knee) are on injured reserve.

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