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Senators aiming to ride momentum, douse Flames

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Binghamton callup Corey Locke, who earned his first career NHL point in a win over the Islanders on Thursday, will make his first home appearance as a Senator against the Calgary Flames tonight at Scotiabank Place (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images).
The smiles were oh so obvious, the lighter mood ever palpable.

There is nothing, as they often say in sport, like winning. Few things are as capable of putting an extra bounce in your step and making the hard work so much more enjoyable. Especially when you haven’t experienced the many joys it can bring for awhile.

Needless to say, the Ottawa Senators dressing room was a happier place earlier today in the wake of Thursday night’s 6-4 road triumph over the New York Islanders. Not only did the Senators produce their biggest offensive output of the season, they broke a six-game winless skid and recorded their first victory of 2011.

“We haven’t had that feeling this year yet,” said Senators defenceman Matt Carkner. “That was our first win of the new year. We need something positive to start happening and it was great just to see that we can do it and that we can score goals ... if we just reach our potential.”

Added captain Daniel Alfredsson: “It feels good. A lot of players contributed offensively yesterday and I thought we did a lot of good things to generate offence, too. Hopefully, we can carry that forward.”

The Senators don’t have to wait long for an opportunity to seize on that momentum, with the Calgary Flames visiting Scotiabank Place tonight (7:30 p.m., Sportsnet East, Team 1200). Both teams find themselves in similar situations, hoping to kickstart the kind of roll that can put them into a playoff position. Ottawa (17-12-6) stands 13th in the Eastern Conference, while the Flames (18-20-5) are 14th in the West.

While Calgary is winless in its previous four outings, Senators head coach Cory Clouston cautioned “they’ve been playing much better as of late. I like their grit up front. They’re a good team, better than their record shows.”

Indeed, Senators centre Mike Fisher — with an eye toward tonight’s game and matchups next week against the Washington Capitals, Anaheim Ducks, Philadelphia Flyers and Montreal Canadiens — said “we’re going to face some pretty good teams coming up, so it’s going to be a lot tougher.”

“Both teams are desperate (tonight) and need to make a charge and play well,” he added. “So we expect them to come in here and play hard. We’ve got to be much better at home, too, and play better for our fans.”

"I had a great time in junior, I learned a lot with 67's and (Hall of Fame coach) Brian Kilrea. I've played in this building before with them and I'm looking forward to another great game in Ottawa. It'll be the same mentality as last night, come out and get the lead early on. I thought we did a good job last night and hopefully, the momentum carries over to tonight." - Corey Locke
In terms of offensive production, at least, Thursday night’s win was the right kind of sign — and much needed — for a team that produced only seven goals over the course of an 0-4-2 stretch before finally busting loose against the Isles.

“We’re really happy with our production from last night,” said forward Nick Foligno. “It’s been a long time in coming. We had a few games where we couldn’t believe the puck wasn’t going in, so it was nice to see us get those six goals.”

Said defenceman Erik Karlsson: “We know we can score goals. It’s nice that we finally did it. Today is hopefully a day we can keep it up and keep it going.”

Nobody was happier to contribute than a guy who notched just a single assist against the Isles. But for Binghamton Senators callup Corey Locke, it represented his first National Hockey League point — eight years after he was originally drafted by the Montreal Canadiens.

“It was great to get the call, it was great to play last night and it was great to get the win,” said Locke, a former Ottawa 67’s star.” To add a point and get on the scoresheet and produce … it was great.”

The 26-year-old Locke will stay in the lineup tonight, this time getting a chance to play an NHL game in front of the home folks.

“I had a great time in junior, I learned a lot with 67’s and (Hall of Fame coach) Brian Kilrea,” he said. “I’ve played in this building before with them and I’m looking forward to another great game in Ottawa. It’ll be the same mentality as last night, come out and get the lead early on. I thought we did a good job last night and hopefully, the momentum carries over to tonight.”

Around the boards

While teenager Robin Lehner recorded a win in his first NHL career start against the Isles, Clouston will go with veteran Brian Elliott between the pipes tonight. “It would have been his fourth game in six nights and there’s been some travel from the world juniors (in Buffalo), up to Binghamton and then here,” Clouston said of Lehner, the organization’s top goaltending prospect. “He’s not the most rested guy, either. We want to make sure we put him in areas where he’s got a chance to succeed. It was a real good opportunity, a real good first start and it’s tough to play back-to-backs at the best of times, let alone four games in six nights” … While the Senators didn’t hold a pre-game skate, centre Jason Spezza (shoulder) hit the ice in full equipment. “No timetable yet,” Clouston said when asked about a possible return date for the team’s No. 1 centre. “Nothing’s really changed. There’s progression and it’s a positive sign that he’s on the ice, but as far as a time-line, I’m not sure yet” …  No other lineup changes tonight, meaning Chris Campoli is a healthy scratch on defence for the second straight game.

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