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Sens' road trip continues in Phoenix

by Davis Harper
SENATORS (27-18-6) at COYOTES (21-20-8)


Last 10: Ottawa 6-3-1; Phoenix 2-4-4.

Season Series: This is the only meeting of the season between the teams. Ottawa has won five of the last six meetings dating back to the 2003-04 season, including the last meeting at Scotiabank Place on Oct. 26, 2010. The Senators used three first-period goals to chase Phoenix starter Jason LaBarbera, then held on for a 5-2 win.

Big Story: Like the other 24 teams playing Tuesday, Ottawa and Phoenix enter Tuesday looking to enter the weeklong All-Star hiatus on a positive note. The Senators enter Arena playing their fifth away game in seven days, and after two straight losses, the All-Star hosts want to head east with a win in tow. With a run of three straight losses, Phoenix has fallen out of playoff contention in the West for the moment, but a win against Ottawa could signal a reversal of fortune.

Team Scope

Senators: After starting their six-game road trip off with two wins, Ottawa's surge screeched to a halt in southern California. Anaheim started the abuse Saturday with a tight 2-1 win, but Los Angeles finished them off on Monday. The Kings opened up a 4-0 lead that Ottawa was hopeless to overcome, and the Sens eventually fell 4-1 in a largely uninspired performance. In a rare porous display, usual starter Craig Anderson conceded four goals on 26 shots and was hooked after 40 minutes in favor of Alex Auld.

Despite his third-best 25 wins, Anderson has now lost three of his last five in regulation. Defenseman Chris Phillips told reporters Ottawa could take a lesson from the Kings' opportune and disruptive attack.

"The work ethic was there," Phillips said. "We got a decent number of shots on net. We're not going to get too many goals from the outside. We have to do a better job of getting to the net, jump on rebounds. They did a pretty good job of that tonight. They were grabbing the net hard, and made things happen there in front of us."

Coyotes: January has not been kind to Phoenix. With just two wins from ten games, the Coyotes have dropped to 12th in the crowded Western playoff race. However, a closer look at their recent struggles suggests it may be a case of playing to opponent's skill level. The Coyotes have fallen in overtime or a shootout four times in January: Detroit (twice), the New York Rangers and Los Angeles, all of which are currently playoff teams. Meanwhile, their three most recent regulation defeats have come to lackluster teams Columbus, Anaheim and, on Saturday, the Tampa Bay Lightning. On the second night of a back-to-back, the Bolts tallied three goals in short order, forcing Phoenix to play catch-up in their own building.

"It seemed like we were banging away and doing whatever we can to create scoring chances," coach Dave Tippett said. "And every five chances we create, we get nothing. Then they get one and they seem like easy goals … that puts a frustration level into your group."
Who's Hot: Ottawa's Erik Karlsson has assisted on his team's last two goals to bring his second-best total to 40 on the season.

Injury Report: Ottawa's leading scorer Jason Spezza was hit in the head by an errant puck during warmups. Spezza left the ice but returned for the game and appeared to be fine. Jesse Winchester (concussion) and Peter Regin (left shoulder) are on injured reserve. … Phoenix blueliner Derek Morris (lower body) and center Daymond Langkow (upper body) are doubtful for Tuesday's game. Adrian Aucoin (lower body) and David Schlemko (foot surgery) are on IR.

Stat Pack: Look for Phoenix to try and jump on the Senators early. Though Ottawa is second in the League for wins (nine) when trailing after the first period, both Anaheim and Los Angeles were able to hold on against the Sens. Phoenix doesn't score often in the first period, but their 12-1-2 record when leading after a period is among the League's elite.
Puck Drop: "Winning the last game and getting everything going in the right direction for us … I mean, regardless of what we have after that we've got to go and win this next one and start getting some things going and take advantage of being at home." – Phoenix captain Shane Doan on the importance of the final game before the All-Star game 
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