The Carolina Hurricanes would like to forget about their most recent game. A visit from the Ottawa Senators might bring back some more unwelcome memories.
The Hurricanes will try to put a six-goal loss behind them on Sunday when they host the streaking Senators, who won by six in their last trip to the RBC Center.
Carolina (38-30-5) had won five straight and eight of nine when it visited Buffalo on Friday night. But in slightly less than 14 minutes, the Hurricanes fell behind 4-0, goaltender Cam Ward was pulled and the Southeast Division leaders never recovered in a 7-1 loss.
"We got off to a terrible start. We just weren't ready," forward Eric Staal said.
It was Carolina's worst loss since Dec. 12, when Ottawa last visited Raleigh and scored three first-period goals in a 6-0 win.
"We got outworked. We got embarrassed in our own building," defenseman Glen Wesley said after that game. "It's unacceptable. It's embarrassing. It's disappointing."
|The last time the Ottawa Senators visited the Carolina Hurricanes at the RBC Center they left with a 6-0 victory. The two Eastern Conference rivals will face off on Sunday afternoon. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Playing well in Carolina has become the norm for the Senators (40-25-7). They've won four straight there and are 9-1-0 with two ties in Raleigh since Dec. 3, 2000, outscoring the Hurricanes 49-24.
Ottawa should be brimming with confidence heading into this game, as it looks to win four straight for the first time since Jan. 4-12. Its latest win was a significant one, a 3-0 victory at Montreal on Thursday that - at the time - pulled the Senators even with the Canadiens for the Northeast Division lead.
"You don't want to put too much stock in one game but it was an important game for us," said center Jason Spezza, who had two power-play goals. "From here on in they're pretty important games so we've got to get ourselves geared up. I thought we played like a good solid team and we played a playoff-type game."
Spezza leads Ottawa with 82 points, and he has five goals and two assists in last five games. He has two goals and five assists in three games against the Hurricanes this season, and has 23 points in 16 career contests against them.
Three of Spezza's five assists against Carolina have come on goals by Dany Heatley, who has five points in two games against the Hurricanes this season.
The shutout of Montreal was technically the first for goaltender Martin Gerber since Oct. 6, but he also shared one with Ray Emery on Dec. 12 in Carolina. Gerber made 31 saves after taking over for Emery, who stopped the only shot he faced in the first period before leaving with a hip injury.
Gerber - who won 38 games with the Hurricanes in 2005-06 to help the team win its only Stanley Cup - is 6-2-0 with a 1.58 goals-against average in his career against Carolina.
While the Senators are in a tight battle with the Canadiens for their division title, the Hurricanes hold a five-point advantage over Washington and Florida in the Southeast.
Staal is Carolina's most consistent scorer, leading the team with 34 goals and 70 points. He had a five-game point streak - during which he'd posted four goals and eight assists - snapped at Buffalo.
Staal has a goal and three assists this season against Ottawa.
The Hurricanes got some bad news this week when they learned second-leading scorer Ray Whitney (59 points) will have to have surgery on his ankle, likely putting him out for the remainder of the regular season. He had already missed six games.
Ward has given up 11 goals in his last two starts against the Senators, both losses.