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Senators in market for Capital gains

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
It's their last stand, so to speak, before the all-star break.

And the Ottawa Senators can think of no better way to glide into it than with a victory over the Washington Capitals at Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m., TSN Team 1200). It's the Sens' final game before the National Hockey League takes a brief respite for its annual all-star game on Sunday in Montreal.

The Senators also want to keep riding the momentum of a productive week that saw them collect five of a possible six points, with only a home-ice shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night preventing a clean sweep after earlier wins over the Carolina Hurricanes and Atlanta Thrashers. Even at that, Ottawa rallied from a 4-2 deficit to steal a point from the Habs.

"We'd like to keep our point streak going and go into the (all-star) break on a positive," Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said after the team's practice earlier today at Scotiabank Place. "Then we can really re-energize during the break and have a really good second half.

"Keeping a positive frame of mind is going to be important and it starts with a win tomorrow."

"It would be great to have a big win going into the break," added centre Mike Fisher. "It would give us something to build on and get excited for. It's huge for us."

Senators head coach Craig Hartsburg considers the match up with the Capitals "a big test" for his team.

"Tomorrow, to me, is a huge game for our team," he said. "We've got to come out tomorrow and play our best game. Against Washington, you're going to have to play your best game anyway.

"We want to go into the break on a positive so it gives us something to come back with. A good feeling that you know what, we've got a chance to keep this going. "

Senators centre Jason Spezza gave his teammates an anxious moment when he left the ice halfway through practice with stiffness in his back. But Spezza said later it's nothing that should keep him off the ice against the Capitals.

"I just felt a little tight today coming to the rink," he said. "When I got out there, I didn't feel good and there's no point straining it in practice."

Fisher, meanwhile, said the hand he injured blocking a shot Saturday against the Canadiens should not prevent him from suiting up against the Caps, either. He skipped the opportunity to defend his hardest shot title Sunday at the Sens Skills competition.

"It was swollen yesterday so I decided to take a day off," said Fisher. "I should be fine for tomorrow."

Around the boards

Hartsburg said forward Shean Donovan, who suffered a lower body injury when he fell hard into the boards during the fastest skater portion of Sens Skills, won't play against the Caps ... Defenceman Anton Volchenkov (upper body) will miss an eighth straight game ... The status of veteran blueliner Jason Smith (lower body) remains up in the air. "We'll see (Tuesday) morning with him," said Hartsburg. "He'll probably skate in the morning and see how it feels." ... Rookie goaltender Brian Elliott has been tabbed to make his fifth start in a row ... Fewer than 250 tickets are left for Tuesday's game.

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