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Senators continue playoff push vs. Oilers

by Davis Harper

SENATORS (27-23-11) at OILERS (20-24-8)


Last 10: Ottawa 5-4-1; Edmonton 5-3-2

Season series: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored twice to lift the Edmonton Oilers past the Ottawa Senators 3-1 on Oct. 19 at Canadian Tire Centre. Still, the Senators own an 8-2-1 overall records versus the Oilers dating back to 2005.

Big story: After consecutive lopsided losses on either side of the Olympic break and an early 2-0 deficit to the Vancouver Canucks in the 2014 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic, the Senators were in danger of slipping out of the Eastern Conference playoff race altogether with a loss Sunday.

The Senators roared back with four unanswered goals, scoring a 4-2 win and catapulting themselves back into the playoff picture. The Senators are 11th in the Eastern Conference with 65 points, three behind the eighth-place Detroit Red Wings.

"We hope it launches our march [to the playoffs]," captain Jason Spezza told the Ottawa Sun. "We had a tough one (a 6-1 loss) against Detroit.

"It was an important game and we knew we needed this one. We had a tough trip and it's hard to come out to Western Canada and play all these teams in all their rinks. For us, it's a necessity and we hope this is a big jumping off point for us."

Team Scope:

Senators: Not only did the win Sunday vault Ottawa back into the postseason picture, but it also kept general manager Bryan Murray interested in adding a player – or at least holding onto their coveted players, like veteran defenseman Chris Phillips – prior to the NHL Trade Deadline.

"If we lose that game and a couple of other teams in the race win, we're in a difficult position, but I don't know whether it makes a big, big difference," Murray said. "But it keeps us in the race, and you have to react accordingly and that's what we will do."

Oilers: Edmonton has lost three straight games and remains in last place in the Western Conference. Some good news arrived Monday, however, when the Oilers signed goaltender Ben Scrivens to a two-year contract extension. Scrivens was set to be a free agent after the season.

"I'm comfortable here. I made a decision that's best for me career-wise and family-wise," Scrivens said. "I'm extremely excited."

Scrivens is 10-9-4 this season in 26 games with the Los Angeles Kings and the Oilers. He leads the NHL with a .934 save percentage and is third with a 2.02 goals-against average.

"He's been great for us since he came in and he's played really solid," forward Boyd Gordon told the Oilers website. "He's been a good addition for our team and we're obviously very happy for him."

Who's hot: Erik Karlsson has three goals and two assists over his past five games for Ottawa. The 2012 Norris Trophy winner was also named the 2014 Sochi Olympics' best defenseman, and finished tied for most points in the tournament with eight (four goals, four assists). … Ales Hemsky hasn't scored a point for Edmonton since Jan. 12, but had three goals and an assist for the Czech Republic in Sochi.

Injury report: Neither team reports any injuries.

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