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Game Day Notes: Game #51 - Sens vs. Capitals

by Craig Medaglia @craigmedaglia / Ottawa Senators

Get set for tonight's 7:30 p.m. start at Canadian Tire Centre with a look at the latest Sens' pre-game news and notes before they host the Washington Capitals.

The PK is OK

One of the more surprising stories from Ottawa this season has been the potency of the Sens penalty kill's offence. Under head coach D.J. Smith this season (and more specifically assistant Jack Capuano who leads the team's PK unit), the Senators currently sit middle of the pack at 15th overall in penalty kill percentage (81.0%) but it's been the team's offence while shorthanded that has been a pleasant surprise.

The Senators lead the NHL in shorthanded goals (11) and have three forwards (Namestnikov, Pageau, Tierney) tied for tops this season with 3 SHGs apiece. Namestinkov, who was acquired from the New York Rangers earlier this season, is also tied for the most shorthanded points this season (3G, 2A - 5P).

The team's power play on the other hand has struggled for chunks of the year and is operating at just 14.4% efficiency to date but has shown big improvements recently. Through 10 games in January, the Senators have scored 8 of their 22 power play goals this season and are clicking at a lethal 28.6% this month.

Video: OTT@BUF: Borowiecki banks home long empty-netter


Projected line-up

No line-up changes are expected for tonight but the coach has tweaked his forward lines a little bit in advance of facing the Capitals. Notably, Anthony Duclair and Connor Brown have swapped spots on the top two lines as Smith looks to spark his offence with some familiar combos.

"It all depends on who we're playing or if we're on the road," said Smith following yesterday's practice. "You look back at when Duclair had his most success and a lot of times it's with Tierney but then when they get in slumps I like to switch them around."

Smith's instincts are backed up by the numbers as well as the Sens offence has been much more productive at Canadian Tire Centre this season averaging 3.12 GF/GP at home compared to just 2.40 GF/GP on the road in 2019-20. Shifting Brown to Jean-Gabriel Pageau's line also gives Smith a solid defensive line with some offensive punch to try and compete with Washington's powerhouse top line that features a red hot Alex Ovechkin.

"They're the team that we want to be in the future," Smith said about tonight's opponent. "They're a team that's developed and that's gone through the tough times. They've won a Stanly Cup and are trying to win it again."

"We can learn from these guys," added the coach. "If you see the best teams in the league doing it right then you're more likely to do it."

Video: Coach updates the media on today's line-up.

Here's a look at the Sens' projected line-up tonight against the Capitals:

Tkachuk - Pageau - Brown

Namestnikov - Tierney - Duclair

Ennis - White - Batherson

Chlapik - Anisimov - Sabourin 

Chabot - Hainsey

Borowiecki - DeMelo

Reilly - Zaitsev 


In goal

The coach still hadn't landed on a decision regarding a starting goalie and tonight's game against the Capitals is the first of a back-to-back with the team heading to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs tomorrow night. Marcus Hogberg (2-2-6) has been terrific in January so it's probable that he's in line to start tonight against Washington but that decision could be swayed by Craig Anderson (7-12-1) who turned aside 28 of the 30 shots he faced in Buffalo on Tuesday night in a 5-2 victory over the Sabres. Stay tuned until warm-up for some confirmation.

Video: NJD@OTT: Hogberg makes pad save on Palmieri


Where to watch

It's a 7:30 p.m. start at Canadian Tire Centre and here's all the ways you can catch the Sens and Capitals tonight...



RADIO: TSN 120094,5 Unique FM

Can't make it to the rink? Well it's a Friday night so why not make the trip to Oliver's (1125 Colonel Dy Dr.) and hit up our Molson Canadian Watch Party where they'll be serving up tall cans of Molson Canadian for just $6 (plus tax) and giving out some sweet swag and prizes during the game.

To find out where our next watch party will be and specials you can enjoy, visit the full schedule click here.

Tweet from @Senators: It���s a #Sens game day! The Sens return home to @CdnTireCtr to take on the Washington Capitals tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET. #GoSensGoTICKETS:

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