The San Jose Sharks and Ottawa Senators each made a big change last week, hoping to provide a spark heading into the postseason.
So far, the moves have produced very different results.
One game after the Sharks' new defenseman scored a goal off a dazzling move to seal the team's sixth straight win, San Jose hosts the Senators, whose new coach was ejected for arguing with officials in his club's latest loss.
San Jose's acquisition of defenseman Brian Campbell has so far been a success, as he's recorded four points in four victories since being obtained from Buffalo at last week's trade deadline. Ottawa coach Bryan Murray, meanwhile, has been unable to help his team regain its early season form since taking over behind the bench.
Campbell scored his first goal as a Shark on Monday, spinning through the slot and scoring on a power play with less than two minutes left in the Sharks' 6-4 win over Montreal. He also heard fans chanting for the team to re-sign him, as he's headed for free agency this summer.
"The crowd was loud, and it was almost a playoff atmosphere," Campbell said. "We've got games in hand, so we've got to take advantage of those."
The Sharks (37-21-8) are five points behind Dallas and one behind Anaheim in the Pacific Division, but have played three fewer games than the Stars and two less than the Ducks.
Monday's win at HP Pavilion came after the Sharks finished an eight-game road trip with five straight victories. They managed to keep the momentum going despite being just 15-13-5 at home this season.
San Jose scored six goals for just the second time this season, as Joe Thornton had two goals and two assists while Jonathan Cheechoo added a goal and two assists. Cheechoo has nine goals and four assists in his last 12 games after recording just 18 points in the previous 47 games.
Lack of offense has been the problem recently for Ottawa, which has lost four of five and fallen out of first place in the Northeast Division for the first time this season.
|Defenseman Brian Campbell, left, has notched four points in four games since being acquired by the San Jose Sharks at the NHL trade deadline on Tuesday, February 26, 2008. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
The Senators (37-24-6) have scored just seven goals in the last five games, five of those coming in a win over Pittsburgh on Saturday. They've managed only two goals in their last three road games, including a 3-1 loss to Anaheim on Monday.
The team's struggles resulted in Murray, Ottawa's general manager, firing coach John Paddock last week and re-assuming the coaching duties. Murray led the Senators to the Stanley Cup finals last season, but the Senators are 1-2 since he took over last Wednesday.
Murray was ejected Monday for arguing calls for the second time.
"We've come out a lot better, had a much better effort the last three games when he's been behind the bench," Senators defenseman Wade Redden said. "We just need to keep going that way and get our wins."
The team's offensive woes likely wouldn't improve if leading scorer Daniel Alfredsson, who left Monday's defeat in the third period after a cross-check to the ribs, misses time. Alfredsson, with 37 goals and 42 assists, didn't practice Tuesday and is questionable for Wednesday.
Ottawa will have Martin Gerber in net for the third straight game after he had been mostly sitting in favor of Ray Emery recently. Gerber has stopped 53 of 60 shots in the last two games.
This matchup is the teams' only one this season. The Senators haven't visited San Jose since Oct. 18, 2003, when they won 4-1, and haven't played the Sharks at all since a 2-0 loss in Ottawa on Jan. 12, 2006.
Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov had 40 saves in that matchup, while Patrick Marleau scored the winner in the second period.