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Senators welcome in winless Blue Jackets

by Pete Jensen /
BLUE JACKETS (0-6-1) at SENATORS (2-5-0)


Season series:
Saturday night marks the lone meeting between Ottawa and Columbus this season. The teams met once last season at Nationwide Arena, where the Blue Jackets earned a 4-3 overtime win.

Big Story: Seven games into the new campaign, the Blue Jackets have yet to find the win column. Columbus suffered a 5-2 loss at the hands of the unbeaten Detroit Red Wings on Friday night at Joe Louis Arena. They'll look to finally break the ice when they face the two-win Senators to conclude a back-to-back road trip. Ottawa, meanwhile, seeks its first winning streak of the season in the finale of its three-game homestand.

Team Scope:

Blue Jackets:
With Jeff Carter nursing a foot injury and James Wisniewski serving the latter stages of his eight-game suspension, the Blue Jackets' depth is being tested. That trend continued when the team lost blueliner Radek Martinek to an apparent concussion in the first period against Detroit.

The Jackets still gave the unbeaten Red Wings a scare, drawing within a goal 1:42 into the third when Aaron Johnson notched his first goal of the season. But Nicklas Lidstrom and Valtteri Filppula responded with goals for the Red Wings, handing the Jackets yet another frustrating defeat.

"We can't use excuses and we try to stay positive all the time, but we've played some good games and we came out short in a couple of them," said forward Derick Brassard, who scored the Jackets' first goal. "We have a chance to play [Saturday] against a young team that's pretty much in the same situation as us, so we've got to figure it out here. We've got injuries but it isn't an excuse. We need to play with what we've got."

Despite its early struggles, Ottawa is beaming with positive energy after kicking off its new rivalry with the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday with a 4-1 victory at Scotiabank Place.

After falling behind 1-0 after 20 minutes of play, the Senators received big lifts from Milan Michalek and Jason Spezza, who notched goals in the second period to give Craig Anderson all the support he needed in net. Ottawa had allowed a total of 16 goals in its three-game losing streak, but the 30-year-old netminder finally took a stand, stopping 35 of 36 shots on the night as the Senators snapped their skid.

While Anderson's heroics paced the Senators in their second home win of the season, the team's line of Michalek, Spezza and Colin Greening thrived all night -- producing a total of 8 points in what was the team's most complete victory of the young season.

"Everybody brings something to the line," said Michalek, who added an empty-net goal in the final seconds of regulation. "Spezza's a great passer and sees everything on the ice and Greening does the dirty work. I try to use my speed and shoot a lot. We were great [on Thursday], but we have to be consistent every night now."

Who’s Hot:
Erik Karlsson is second in the League among defensemen with 8 points (1 goal, 7 assists) entering Saturday's action. The 21-year-old blueliner started the season with a 4-game point streak and posted a goal and an assist in Ottawa’s 7-2 loss to Philadelphia on Tuesday night. … Nash, who notched an assist in Friday night's loss in Detroit, leads the Blue Jackets with 7 points (2 goals, 5 assists) through 7 games this season.

Injury Report:
Defenseman Matt Carkner (right knee surgery) and forward Bobby Butler (groin) are on injured reserve and will miss Saturday's game against Columbus. Scott Arniel did not know the severity of Martinek's injury after the team's loss to Detroit and his status for Saturday remains uncertain. The Jackets will be without forwards Carter (broken foot), Jared Boll (broken thumb) and Kristian Huselius (torn pectoral muscle), who are all on injured reserve. ... Ottawa forward Peter Regin is out with a shoulder injury.

Stat Pack: Michalek scored twice for Ottawa in its victory over Winnipeg this week, his seventh multi-goal game in three seasons as a Senator. Ottawa's win on Thursday ended a five-game skid for the team in games where Michalek had a multi-goal showing, dating back to when the Czech-born forward scored a hat trick to help the Senators defeat the Lightning in October 2009. … The Blue Jackets (0-6-1) are off to their worst start in franchise history.

Puck Drop: Both Ottawa and Columbus have experienced early season turbulence, combining for two wins in 14 games. Senators coach Paul MacLean says righting the ship starts with taking a mental step forward.

"We looked at ourselves in the mirror and decided that we want to play," MacLean said. “We needed to play harder and be more competitive. We did that [against Winnipeg] for the whole game. I thought our team was way more determined in our effort, and the competition level was way higher. We need to continue to do that."

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