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Senators hitting the road in high spirits

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Nick Foligno and the Senators like the form they're showing as they head on the road for games against a pair of Westen Conference opponents, the Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche (Getty Images).

Upon first glance, it might well rate as one of the most daunting road tests of their season.

Back-to-back games in two different time zones, against a pair of Western Conference opponents with which they're somewhat shy on familiarity.

But it was a spirited bunch of Ottawa Senators who headed westward this afternoon, first to St. Paul, Minn., for a Thursday matchup with the Wild (8 p.m., Sportsnet Sens, Team 1200). Then off to the Rockies of Colorado and a Friday night meeting with the Avalanche in Denver (9 p.m., Sportsnet East, Team 1200).

For a team that's still trying to fully emerge from a 4-9-2 rut, it isn't exactly an overly appetizing kind of road swing. But the Senators remain convinced the improved hockey they've displayed lately will soon make more of an impact in the wins column.

"We're happy with the way we're playing right now," forward Nick Foligno said following Senators practice earlier today at Scotiabank Place. "We got three points out of a possible four the last two games (a win over New Jersey, followed by an overtime loss to Atlanta). Now we've got to go in and play really well against Minnesota.

"If we get the win in Minny and we start rolling and guys get more confidence, who knows what can happen?"

Perhaps most encouraging is that the Senators appear to be moving beyond the goal-scoring funk that plagued them for the better part of three weeks. In four of its past five outings, Ottawa has produced three goals. Now it's just a matter of putting the entire puzzle together on a more consistent basis.

"We’ve played some good games," said head coach Cory Clouston. "We haven’t managed to put wins together. It seems like when we get the goals, we’ve had a couple of outings when our goaltenders haven’t been where we need them to be and vice versa.

"A couple of games, we’ve had the goaltending and haven’t put the pucks in the net. I think we’re definitely pointed in the right direction and the guys feel good about their game."

Captain Daniel Alfredsson agreed, saying "we've played some really good hockey lately."

"We've just got to find a way to win the games," he added. "Get the goals when we need them and the saves when we need them and have the special teams play well (at the same time). We're getting there, so hopefully we can translate all the positives into some wins and get on a roll."

Around the boards

Forward Alex Kovalev (flu) was back on the ice this morning, which meant Clouston had a full roster at his disposal for practice. "We had one guy out yesterday and everybody on the ice today," he said. "This is only our third or fourth time all year when we've had a full lineup practising, so that's definitely a positive sign" ... The last time the Senators played at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Clouston was an interim coach and Ottawa dug itself a 3-0 hole before rallying for a 5-3 win. "It was a fun game to be involved in and, hopefully, we can duplicate that (Thursday)," he said.

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