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Wild set to open homestand against Senators

by Davis Harper

SENATORS (20-18-8) at WILD (25-18-5)


Last 10: Ottawa 6-2-2; Minnesota 5-5-0

Season series: Mikko Koivu netted a late goal to give the Minnesota Wild a 4-3 win against the Ottawa Senators from Canadian Tire Centre on Nov. 20.

Big story: Two streaking teams will look to win the sixth game in their past seven outings on Tuesday at Xcel Energy Center.

Despite skating without captain Koivu, starting goalie Josh Harding and key forward Zach Parise, the Wild keep finding ways to win. Minnesota has won five of six in January after losing six straight to end 2013, including a 4-0 shutout of the Nashville Predators on Sunday.

The Senators, also coming off a win against Nashville, 2-1 in a shootout on Saturday, have used their run to pull within two points of a postseason place.

Team Scope:

Senators: The Senators finish a four-game road trip Tuesday. The first three games have all gone past regulation, with Ottawa going 2-0-1 so far to extend its points streak to six games.

Ottawa plays three games this week, the latter two coming against Eastern Conference rivals Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers on Thursday and Saturday, respectively. Senators coach Paul MacLean will rest starting goalie Craig Anderson (6-0-2 over his past eight starts) on Tuesday in favor of backup Robin Lehner.

"Robin also gives us a very good chance to win games and has played very well for us," MacLean said after practice Monday. "We just don't feel we can leave sitting there longer and longer and longer and not get to play, otherwise we'll never play him."

Wild: With key players sidelined, many second fiddles have proven able replacements of late. Goalie Darcy Kuemper notched his first shutout Sunday at Nashville, his second win since being recalled. New linemates Charlie Coyle and Dany Heatley each have back-to-back two-point games, each playing well with Jason Zucker.

"I think it's also the first time we've had a couple of guys we've played steady together for more than a game or two," Heatley said. "Like I said, that chemistry's a big deal and it's going good right now."

Minnesota killed both penalties against Nashville, and the Wild have killed 20 of 22 over the past nine games.

"A simple game is how we're successful," said defenseman Ryan Suter. "We were able to get the pucks in and get the forechecks going. We got a lot of pucks to the net. Nothing fancy and that's how we have to play games right now."

Who's hot: Though he didn't record a point against Nashville, Ottawa forward Clarke MacArthur, whom MacLean called his team's "most consistent player," had four goals and an assist over his previous four games. … Suter leads the NHL in time on ice, averaging 29:38 per game, and his consistent play has kept the Wild steady as they cope with injury setbacks. Suter is a cumulative plus-8 over his past seven games.

Injury report: Ottawa forward Chris Neil (lower body) is out indefinitely. … For Minnesota, Harding (illness), Parise (lower body) and Koivu (ankle surgery) are on injured reserve, as is defenseman Jared Spurgeon (lower body).

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