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Senators face Wild in inter-conference battle

by Adam Kimelman /
SENATORS (13-16-3) at WILD (13-12-4)


Last 10 --
Ottawa 3-5-2; Minnesota 3-5-2

Season series --
This is the only game between the teams this season. In their only meeting last season, Dec. 19, 2009, Mike Brodeur stopped 22 of 23 shots to lead the Senators to a 4-1 victory at Scotiabank Place.

Big Story -- Break time is over for these teams, and hopefully the rest did them some good. The Senators haven't played since Monday's 4-3 overtime loss to the Thrashers, while the Wild have been off since Sunday's 6-2 defeat at the Ducks.

Team Scope:

Senators -- After getting shut out in back-to-back games to start December, Ottawa seems to have rediscovered its offense, scoring three goals in four of its last five games.

The overtime loss to the Thrashers was a tough one to swallow, but they at least were pleased to earn a point after being down 3-0 with 90 seconds left in the second period.

"We know we played a pretty good game and we probably should have won," Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, who started the rally with a goal with 1:29 left in the second period. "I think we feel we're going in the right direction. We've played some pretty good games here as of late and now we've got to make sure we turn it into wins.

"But it's positive that we're playing pretty solid throughout the whole game now."

Wild --
With Niklas Backstrom's recent struggles -- he has just one win in his last six starts (1-4-1) -- and solid play from backup Jose Theodore, coach Todd Richards refused to name a starter for Thursday's game, intimating that Backstrom and Theodore will split time.

"Right now we take it game-by-game," Richards told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "If one of them steps up to the forefront and can run with the ball, that's what we'll do. Theo's been pretty good, as far as consistency. Back had a really good game in Phoenix (Dec. 9). … We didn't help (Backstrom) out in Anaheim (6-2 loss Sunday). He also needed to be sharper."

Who's Hot --
Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson has a goal and 3 assists in his last four games. … Wild defenseman Brent Burns has goals in three straight games.

Injury Report --
Senators goalie Pascal Leclaire is questionable with a lower-body injury. … Centers Matt Cullen (groin) and John Madden (upper-body injury) skated Tuesday and will game-time decisions Thursday.

Stat Pack -- The Senators and Wild don't play often -- this will be just their sixth meeting since the 2003-04 season -- but Ottawa has dominated the series, winning four straight. Minnesota hasn't beaten the Sens since March 16, 2004.

Puck Drop -- This will be the Wild's first game against the Senators since last season's game in Ottawa nearly had to be postponed when the Wild's equipment truck caught on fire and a large amount of their gear either was damaged or destroyed.

"I remember blowing my whistle during the morning skate and it tasted like smoke," Richards told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

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