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Senators aiming to 'create our own energy'

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson knows why the focus is on former teammate Dany Heatley, but says the priority is scoring a win over the San Jose Sharks tonight (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images).

Check out the NHL game notes for tonight's Ottawa-San Jose matchup.

Try as they might, the Ottawa Senators know they can't completely shut out the frenzy that is nearing fever pitch around them.

But while many at Scotiabank Place will point their thoughts toward Dany Heatley and his return to Ottawa with the San Jose Sharks, the Senators insist they've got only one thing in mind in tonight's highly-anticipated matchup (7:30 p.m., TSN, Team 1200) — securing a much-needed victory and the two points that go along with it.

"For us, it's a matter of trying to get two points," captain Daniel Alfredsson said following the Senators' pre-game skate earlier today. "We're in desperate need of points. But we knew the situation (surrounding Heatley) and what it was going to be like awhile ago — I think everybody did. We’ve just got to put all the distractions aside and focus on our game plan."

That being said, the Senators are anxious to take in the sights and sounds of the circus that is certain to surround Heatley, who was dealt to the Sharks in September 2009 in exchange for Milan Michalek, Jonathan Cheechoo and a second-round draft pick. And if they can feed off it all and use it in a positive way, then so be it.

"It makes the game exciting," said Pascal Leclaire, tonight's starter in goal for the Senators. "It'll be loud and for a player, it's always fun when the arena is like that.

"It'll be an exciting game, for sure. There's been a lot of talk about Dany's first time coming back (since the trade). I'm sure the fans are looking forward to it but at the same time, we can't get into that stuff. We've got a task in front of us and we've got to step up our game."

Added forward Chris Neil: "Definitely, there’s going to be energy for sure, but we’ve got to create our own energy in this dressing room. That (means) everyone in here playing on the same page and playing together. It doesn’t matter who you’re out there against, you know you’ve got to go out and get a job done."

That's definitely the mindset for head coach Cory Clouston, who wants his charges to be aware they're facing a dangerous opponent tonight with a high-octane offence.

"We’re not making it us against Dany Heatley," said Clouston. "We’re making it us against San Jose and we’ve got to make sure that’s our focus — a team versus a team, not one individual. (The Sharks) have played a little bit inconsistent, but they’re capable of exploding.

"They’ve got a top line (Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Heatley) that is very dangerous. They’ve got a defenceman, in (Dan) Boyle, who’s as good offensively as anybody and creates off the rush and joins the rush. They’re a good team, a very good team. It's a great challenge for us. We need to be excited to play this game and we need to be at our best."

Around the boards

Senators defenceman Sergei Gonchar needs two points to reach the 700 plateau for his career ... The Sens and Sharks last met in Ottawa on Feb. 26, 2009, with San Jose taking home a 2-1 win ... The Senators are home to the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200), before hitting the road for a pair of games — Sunday at the New York Rangers and Tuesday at the Montreal Canadiens.

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