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Senators aiming to build the right kind of streak

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Nick Foligno and the Senators hope to make the most of the positive vibe they gained with Saturday's victory in Edmonton, which ended an 11-game winless streak (Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).

No melody sounds sweeter than the one the Ottawa Senators were still humming as they returned to work today.

Especially when it's been way too long between choruses of the victory tune.

With every bounce in their practice step at Scotiabank Place, the Senators showed how much their spirits have been lifted by Saturday's 5-3 victory over the Oilers in Edmonton, which ended an 11-game winless streak (0-9-2). It was only the second such happy ending for Ottawa since Dec. 26, a tale of woe that weighed more heavily on this team with each passing day.

It's amazing, however, what one good result can do for your psyche.

"It was a big piano off our back, so to speak," forward Nick Foligno said after an upbeat practice for the Senators, their first on home ice in more than a week. "Just finally getting that one … It’s nice to hold off a team and get that (eventual) win. Hopefully, it brings us more confidence and brings us that kind of oomph that we need.

"You look around the practice today and guys are just a little bit lighter. It feels good. Winning is a great feeling to have and coming into the locker-room after that game was a big boost for us."

Added defenceman Erik Karlsson: "It's been so long since we won, so it lifts the tension a little bit. Now we've just got to focus on the next game and win that one, too ... Hopefully, we can pull off a few (more) wins here going forward."

The next one comes Tuesday night, when the Senators face off against the suddenly hot New York Islanders (7:30 p.m., Sportsnet East, Team 1200), who have erupted for 16 goals in their last two outings. The Isles (20-29-7) stand 14th in the Eastern Conference, three points in front of Ottawa (18-30-8), but the former routed the Pittsburgh Penguins 9-3 and edged the Buffalo Sabres 7-6 in overtime on the weekend.

"That's what we talked about this morning and that's what we worked on a lot today, (defensive) zone coverage and coming back into our own zone," Senators head coach Cory Clouston said in reference to the Isles' recent offensive spree. "They're generating some offence and they've got a lot of confidence around the net. They're giving up some goals but offensively, they're as hot as any team in the league right now."

While last week's trade of veteran centre Mike Fisher made it clear the organization's focus is now on the future, the Senators want to make the present as enjoyable as possible, too. For the players, that means stringing together more results like the kind they produced in Edmonton, all the while trying to block out the growing media speculation about more trades that surrounds this team.

"We just want to play the right way," said Foligno. "We understand the situation we’re in but if we can just play the right way and do the right things, we’re going to find it a lot more enjoyable of a season and that’s important. I think guys understand the seriousness (right now) and maybe changes are coming. That’s still in the back of our mind but we need to focus on playing well, playing solid as a team and trying to get those wins."

Clouston admitted putting all the trade talk distractions aside "is easier said than done," but maintained it's the focus the team needs to have in the coming weeks.

"We've got to start winning games and putting (wins) together," he said. "It was a good start against Edmonton. We felt we could have come out of that road trip with at least two, possibly three of the games. Unfortunately, we didn't, but it's something to build on, that last game."

Around the boards

Forward Bobby Butler, who scored his first National Hockey League career goal in the win over the Oilers, and goaltender Robin Lehner have been recalled after suiting up for the Binghamton Senators on Sunday night. Lehner, who stopped 26-of-29 shots in the 4-3 overtime victory over the Adirondack Phantoms, is likely to shuttle between Ottawa and its American Hockey League affiliate for the next little while, at least. "Right now, we don't have another goalie (available) on a contract," Clouston said in reference to the situation in Binghamton, where Mike Brodeur is injured and Barry Brust is on an AHL contract. "We don't have another option. (Lehner) is going to have to go back and forth at times. We just want to make sure he's not going too long without a game" ... Netminder Pascal Leclaire (lower body) has been on the ice the past few days and Clouston said "there has been some progression" in his recovery. "The last few days have been a positive," he said ... Defenceman Sergei Gonchar left practice early after taking a shot off the foot but is expected to play against the Isles, while blueliner Matt Carkner (lower body) is "possible," Clouston said.



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