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Senators and Bruins try to get back on track

by Sergei J. Feldman

SENATORS (8-7-1) at BRUINS (8-4-1)


Last 10 -- Ottawa 7-3-0; Boston 6-3-1

Season series -- This is the second of six meetings between the two Northeast Division rivals. The Bruins beat the Senators 4-0 in Ottawa on Oct. 30. A balanced attack paved the way for the B's, as four different players scored, including top draft pick Tyler Seguin. Tim Thomas earned his 20th career shutout in the game and fifth against the Senators, while Brian Elliott took the loss for the Sens.

Big story -- The Bruins and Senators both have with 17 points, though the Bruins have played 13 games to Ottawa's 16. The game is a chance for both teams to gain ground on the division-leading Montreal Canadiens, who have 21.

Team Scope:

Senators -- After a perfect 4-0 start in November, the Sens came crashing back to earth on Thursday, losing 6-2 at home to the Vancouver Canucks. The game against the Bruins will be the first of a four-game road trip for the Senators.

"It's huge," defenseman Matt Carkner told the team's website about the trip, which includes stops in Philadelphia, Carolina and St. Louis. "If we come out with a lot of points on this trip, we'll be looking good in the standings. We'll have a lot more confidence. But right now, we're just looking at the next game. We've got to be strong, we've got to keep it simple and make the best we can out of it.

Bruins -- Conversely, the Bruins have been experiencing an up-and-down start to the month, going almost two weeks without consecutive victories. After a 7-4 victory at Pittsburgh on Wednesday in which they scored five goals in the third period, the Bruins responded the following night with a 3-1 home loss to the Montreal Canadiens. Goalie Tuukka Rask lost his fifth game in five appearances despite making 38 saves.

"I don't know if I've got to change something, or if it's just bad luck," he said. "But definitely the bounces are not going my way."

Who's hot -- For the Bruins, Milan Lucic has collected points in four of his past five games and has played great two-way hockey in that span. … Ottawa defenseman Sergei Gonchar has scored at least a point in nine of his past 11 games and is on a five-game points streak.

Injury report -- Ottawa defenseman Brian Lee is questionable with a neck injury, but the Senators could get a lift from the return of Filip Kuba, who has yet to play this season due to a broken right leg suffered on the first day of training camp. He said Friday he's optimistic he'll be ready to play. … Boston's David Krejci is expected to be out for at least one week with a concussion.

Stat pack -- Ottawa Right wing Alex Kovalev has 998 points after getting an assist against Vancouver. He would be the second Senator to reach the 1,000-point mark this season. Captain Daniel Alfredsson got there last month. ... Thomas is 12-2-1 with a 1.49 goals-against average in his last 15 starts against Ottawa.

Puck drop -- Look for the Senators to think "shoot first." Coach Cory Clouston wasn't happy with his team's performance against Vancouver, saying the Senators often passed up good shots -- and drilled home his point at Friday's practice.

"We've just got to shoot the puck more," Clouston said. "We had a couple of opportunities in the second period (against Vancouver) where we had real good opportunities to shoot the puck and we tried to be a little bit too cute with it. Against a team like Boston … they don't give you a lot so you can't pass up (shots). You've got to keep things simple."

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