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Senators continue playoff push vs. Hurricanes

by Brian Compton

HURRICANES (32-32-10) at SENATORS (31-29-14)


Last 10: Carolina 5-4-1; Ottawa 3-4-3

Season series: This is the third and final game between the Carolina Hurricanes and Ottawa Senators. Carolina is going for a sweep; the Hurricanes have outscored Ottawa by a 10-4 margin in two victories.

Big story: Ottawa, which continues to fight for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, will play its second game in as many nights after earning a 6-3 win against the Calgary Flames at Canadian Tire Centre on Sunday. The Senators enter Monday six points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with eight games remaining.

Team Scope:

Hurricanes: Carolina's playoff hopes are slimmer than Ottawa's -- the Hurricanes are eight points out with eight games to go, but one bright spot this month has been the play of center Andrei Loktionov, who was acquired at the NHL Trade Deadline from the New Jersey Devils.

The 23-year-old has become a top-six forward in Carolina and is expected to skate on a line with Eric Staal and Jiri Tlusty on Monday. Loktionov has six points (three goals, three assists) in his past six games and two goals and two assists during a three-game point streak.

"He's had a history of being a kid that's known to have some good offense and skill level. It's just a matter of getting that out," Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller told the team website Sunday. "He was in L.A.'s system, a real structured team, and New Jersey, so I'm sure his NHL experience gave him an opportunity to learn the game more systematically. So maybe we just caught him at the right time. He's a guy that we felt, if he's given the chance, has the skill level and knows how to play the game two ways. And that's what he's bringing right now."

Senators: Desperate to stay in the playoff race, Ottawa extended its point streak to four games (3-0-1) with the win Sunday. Milan Michalek scored twice in the first period and Robin Lehner made 37 saves in his eighth start in the past nine games.

"It was a huge win for us tonight," Michalek said. "We came out really well in the first and we kind of let up in the second, and kind of let them back in the game, and we talked about it in the locker room after the second period, and in the third we came out strong and scored some big goals, so it's a big win for us."

Who's hot: Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner has scored in three straight games and has a four-game point streak. … Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson has earned at least one point in nine of his past 10 games; he has three goals and 10 assists over that span. Michalek has three goals and one assist in his past four games.

Injury report: Senators forward Bobby Ryan (hernia) is out for the season. Forwards Jason Spezza (lower body) and Colin Greening (lower body) and defenseman Jared Cowen (lower body) won't play Monday.

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