After snapping their longest losing streak in more than a decade, the Ottawa Senators continue their season-high five-game road trip Friday night when they visit the Dallas Stars for the first time in almost four years.
The Senators (17-7-3) finally halted a seven-game slide Wednesday when Randy Robitaille scored twice and Ray Emery stopped a third-period penalty shot in a 5-4 win at Florida. The victory gave Ottawa, which lost 2-1 in a shootout Tuesday at Tampa Bay, three points in the first two contests of its extended trip. The Senators also improved to 7-2-2 on the road, with the two losses in regulation the fewest in the NHL.
However, Ottawa hasn't won consecutive games since concluding its 15-2-0 start in mid-November. That outstanding run has helped the Senators remain at the top of the Eastern Conference despite enduring their longest losing streak since a seven-game slide Feb. 22-March 9, 1996, during the last season they failed to reach the playoffs.
"During our little stretch, we were close, but we were not able to finish games out," said Senators center Jason Spezza, who had a goal and an assist Wednesday.
Poor play in goal from Emery and Martin Gerber has been part of the problem.
Emery's 21-save performance against Florida gave him his first win since Nov. 1. He could make his third consecutive start Friday, as Gerber has been ineffective recently.
Gerber has not played since Saturday, when he was pulled after allowing three goals on 12 shots in the first period of a 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers. It was the second time in Gerber's last four starts that he failed to finish the game.
He is 0-2-1 with a 5.95 goals-against average in his last four outings after going 13-2-0 with a 1.85 GAA in his first 15 games.
With the goaltenders struggling, the Sens have relied heavily on their top line of Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley.
Spezza has four goals and 12 assists during a season-high nine-game point streak. Alfredsson - Ottawa's leader with 19 goals - has three goals and six assists in his last four games, and Heatley has six goals and six assists in the last nine.
The Senators are meeting the Stars (15-10-4) for the first time since a 2-0 loss in Ottawa on Dec. 15, 2005. They have also lost their last two trips to Dallas by 5-3 scores, with the most recent coming on Jan. 28, 2004.
The Stars have dropped three of their last five games overall, including a 3-2 defeat to San Jose on Wednesday - the fourth time in the last five contests Dallas failed to scored more than two goals.
"We're a team that we have to be clicking on all cylinders and if we have a few hiccups in our game or have a few guys under power, it's hard to win," Stars coach Dave Tippett said.
Marty Turco, who made 25 saves against the Sharks, has been strong of late, going 4-2-0 with a 1.82 GAA in his last six outings. He has also won all three of his career starts against Ottawa, posting a 2.00 GAA with one shutout.