After missing an opportunity to create some space in the quest for the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference, the Ottawa Senators continue their four-game road trip Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues.
The Senators (42-23-8) have 92 points and are tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins for fourth place - which carries home-ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs - with nine games remaining. Ottawa lost 4-3 in a shootout at Pittsburgh on Sunday, giving up a pair of power-play goals in a game for the first time since Feb. 17.
Despite the loss, Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson thinks his team played well. Ottawa outshot Pittsburgh 35-19, and ended a drought of 17 opportunities over nearly four games without a power-play goal when Wade Redden scored with 4:53 to play in the third period.
"That was one of our better games in a while," Alfredsson said. "We came out really strong. We outplayed them 5-on-5 most of the game, worked hard. Getting them power plays was the only way to stay in the game, and they sure did get some."
The Senators are 12-1-5 in their last 18 games and have only five regulation losses in their last 36, leaving general manager John Muckler confident as his team closes its 10th consecutive playoff berth and fourth straight 100-point season.
"I like (the team) very much. I think we're playing solid hockey. I think we have more depth than we've ever had," Muckler told the team's official Web site. "Everybody knows his job and everybody is willing to do it. Everybody is contributing. That's what you need in the playoffs.
Your stars aren't going to be stars every night, other people have to pick it up when they're not. I think we're equipped to do that."
Dany Heatley, who leads the Senators with 42 goals and 92 points, is trying to avoid matching a season high by failing to score a goal for the fifth straight game. He also went five games without a goal from Oct. 4-14 at the start of the season, and Dec. 6-14.
St. Louis (30-29-12) halted a three-game losing streak with a 3-2 overtime victory at Edmonton on Saturday to close its three-game road trip with four of a possible six points. Former Oilers defenseman Eric Brewer scored the winning goal 2:04 into extra period for the Blues.
"It was good to get four points out of six on this trip," Blues captain Doug Weight said. "We played pretty good and had some great chances, and (Roloson) played well.
"That team showed a lot of heart and obviously took us to overtime and we were fortunate to get a good bounce in overtime there."
Petr Cajanek extended his goal-scoring streak to three games with a first-period tally and has five goals and 13 points in helping the Blues go 8-3-3 in their last 14 games.
Because of the lockout and the unbalanced schedule, this will be the first game between the teams since a 3-1 Senators victory on Feb. 10, 2004. This is the first meeting in St. Louis since the teams skated to a 2-all tie on Dec. 5, 2002.