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Hurricanes present challenge for Senators

Carolina is 14-3-4 in past 21 games against Ottawa

by Chris Stevenson / NHL.com Correspondent

HURRICANES (26-21-10) at SENATORS (26-26-6) 
  
TV:
7:30 p.m. ET, FS-SE, RDS, TSN5, NHL.TV 

OTTAWA -- The Ottawa Senators will be trying to change recent history when they play the Carolina Hurricanes at Canadian Tire Centre on Thursday. 

The Hurricanes are 14-3-4 in their past 21 games against the Senators and have been playing well lately: They are 10-3-3 since Jan. 8 and are two points out of the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. 

"It comes down to your style of play, right? For whatever reason," Senators coach Dave Cameron said. "It's funny because there's different scenarios in that throughout the League, right? You can watch other teams and when they go head-to-head, it seems like one team comes out all the time. It just seems to be one of those things that defies logic. 

"I know last year we had a big overtime win in Carolina. I forget the numbers, but at that time it had been ungodly how many times we had lost in there. We lost in overtime there earlier this year too. I can't answer that. Some teams bring out the worst in you." 

The Senators, who defeated the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 on Tuesday, are attempting to win consecutive games for the first time Jan. 16-18 and for the second time since Dec. 3-5. 

They are six points out of the second wild. 

Thursday is the one-year anniversary of the Senators starting a 23-4-4 run which vaulted them into the playoffs. The streak started after a 6-3 loss to the Hurricanes at Canadian Tire Centre on Feb. 16, 2015. 

Consistency has been an issue this season, said Cameron, and the Hurricanes will give the Senators an example of how to play. 

"In a nutshell, they play the way we played down the stretch last year, the way I try to get this team to play, to a 'T'," he said. "Fast, manage the puck and just give up what the other team creates. When we're on our game, that's how we play. We have to get on that game more often. I've said that a thousand times." 

Senators defenseman Dion Phaneuf said they must be prepared to fight through the Hurricanes defense. 

"They like to hold up, they like to clutch and grab and in today's game they seem to be a tight-checking team," he said. "We know what to expect and we're going to have to fight through it." 

Cameron will use the same lineup he used against the Sabres: Craig Anderson will start in goal and defenseman Mark Borowiecki will not play because of a head injury. 

Carolina coach Bill Peters said goaltender Cam Ward has recovered from a lower-body injury but he wants to give him another day of rest, so Eddie Lack will start in goal. 

Peters said the Hurricanes' improvement on defense has been the key to their play lately. 

"Probably our goaltending has been better, but you can simply say our goaltending and team defense and our commitment to doing it right away from the puck has been better," he said. "Our young 'D' aren't as young as they were earlier in the year and they've learned from some of the things they haven't seen before and it's not so new to them now. They're more comfortable in the League." 

That defense will be focused on Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, who is fourth in the scoring race with 11 goals and 52 assists. He leads all defensemen by 15 points. 

"We've got to control (number) 65, for sure. He's going to be up the ice," Peters said. "He's very dangerous. He's the head of the snake. A lot of things go through him." 

Here are the projected lineups: 

HURRICANES

Kris Versteeg - Eric Staal - Phillip Di Giuseppe  
Joakim Nordstrom - Jordan Staal - Andrej Nestrasil  
Jeff Skinner - Victor Rask - Elias Lindholm  
Chris Terry - Jay McClement - Riley Nash  

Jaccob Slavin - Ron Hainsey  
John-Michael Liles - Brett Pesce  
Noah Hanifin - Michal Jordan  

Eddie Lack 
Cam Ward 

Injured: Justin Faulk (leg), James Wisniewski (knee) 
Scratched: Nathan Gerbe, Brad Malone  

SENATORS

Ryan Dzingel - Kyle Turris - Bobby Ryan  
Zack Smith - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Mark Stone  
Mike Hoffman - Mika Zibanejad - Alex Chiasson  
Nick Paul - Curtis Lazar - Chris Neil  

Marc Methot - Erik Karlsson 
Dion Phaneuf - Cody Ceci   
Patrick Wiercioch - Chris Wideman  

Craig Anderson 
Andrew Hammond  

Injured: Chris Phillips (back), Clarke MacArthur (concussion), David Dziurzynski (undisclosed), Mark Borowiecki (head)

Scratched: Shane Prince  

Status report: Cameron said Borowiecki is day-to-day and could play Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings. … With the Hurricanes facing back-to-back games, Peters said there's a chance Ward will be in goal against the San Jose Sharks at home Friday. 

Who's hot: Jordan Staal has a goal and two assists in his past two games. … Nash has two goals and an assist in his past two games. … Lindholm has three assists in his past two games. 

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