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Senators aim to bounce back vs. Blues

by Sean McCullen

SENATORS (24-21-11) at BLUES (37-12-5)


Last 10: Ottawa 4-3-3; St. Louis 6-4-0

Season series: The Ottawa Senators beat the St. Louis Blues 3-2 in overtime Dec. 16 in the first of two games between the teams this season. Rookie defenseman Cody Ceci scored the game-winner, his first NHL goal, at 3:59 of overtime.

Big story: Ottawa will be looking to improve on its 1-5-2 record this season in the second game of back-to-back sets. The Senators played the Eastern Conference-leading Pittsburgh Penguins on the road Monday before flying into St. Louis early Tuesday.

The Blues, who have won four of their past five games, practiced Monday but otherwise had two days off in St. Louis to wait for the Senators to come to town.

Team Scope:

Senators: Ottawa has lost two in a row and four of six (2-2-2) following a 2-1 overtime loss to Pittsburgh. Craig Anderson made 46 saves, but it wasn't enough to get the Senators a win against Marc-Andre Fleury and the Penguins, who earned the victory when James Neal scored 1:55 into overtime.

Coach Paul MacLean was pleased with the way his team responded to a lopsided 6-3 road loss against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.

"We had a lot of guys that played real well," MacLean said. "I thought our competition level was good, and when you get to overtime against [the Penguins], things can go wrong in a hurry and they did."

The Senators will play two of their three remaining games before the Olympic break on the road.

Blues: St. Louis has a chance to enter the Olympic break in first place in the Central Division. The Blues, who beat the Nashville Predators 4-3 in a shootout at Scottrade Center on Saturday, trail the Chicago Blackhawks by three points for the division lead entering Tuesday.

The Blues host the Senators, Boston Bruins and Winnipeg Jets before the NHL shuts down for 16 days for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

"We have three tough opponents coming in here," Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Ottawa, there's a little bit of a bad taste in our month from them. We know who Boston is; they're obviously a monster. And Winnipeg is a divisional opponent. We have a chance to gain some games on Chicago and move up in the standings, and I think that that's our goal."

The Blackhawks, who won 5-3 at the Los Angeles Kings on Monday, play on the road against the Anaheim Ducks and Phoenix Coyotes to wrap up the pre-Olympics portion of their schedule.

Who's hot: Senators center Stephane Da Costa has three goals in 10 games since he was called up from Binghamton of the American Hockey League. He scored Ottawa's goal Monday, two games after the first two-goal game of his career against the Columbus Blue Jackets. … Blues center David Backes has at least one point in four of the past five games. He has two goals and three assists over that span. Right wing Vladimir Tarasenko has three goals and two assists in the past six games.

Injury report: Ottawa defenseman Chris Phillips (lower body) is day-to-day. He has missed the past four games. Right wing Mark Stone (upper body) is on injured reserve. … St. Louis center Vladimir Sobotka (left leg) is on IR.

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