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Senators' work ethic must stand strong against the Stars

by Staff Writer / Ottawa Senators
Jason Spezza stretches during the pre-game skate at the Corel Centre on Thursday morning. He will be a game-time decision for tonight's contest against the Dallas Stars. Photo: OSHC

Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson knows his team better be ready to put in a convincing effort against the Dallas Stars tonight (Corel Centre, 7:30 p.m.), especially with the absence of several key personnel in the lineup.

"We've got to keep it simple. We still have to get a strong forecheck going. Everyone has to play harder. We know their power play is lethal with (Mike) Modano, (Bill) Guerin, (Sergei) Zubov and (Brian) Boucher on the point, too. They're a pretty balanced team."

Coach Bryan Murray watched the Stars -- 13-3-0 in their last 16 games -- fall to the Buffalo Sabres Wednesday night. He spoke about what he noticed about tonight's opponents.

"They were down and had to push and gamble. They did a good job, other than winning the game. Marty (Turco) is a top-end goalie and (Sergei) Zubov is key to their defence."

While Wade Redden (sprained knee) will not play tonight, Chris Kelly (bruised right foot) will play and there's a possibility Jason Spezza will, too. All three players took part in the pre-game skate. Spezza spoke about his chances of playing.

"We'll see at game time. I want to play, but I want to be all right when I play. If it looks like it could get worse, I won't play. It felt not bad (during the pre-game skate)."

Meanwhile Redden is hoping for a return to the lineup on Saturday.

"I'm not playing (Thursday) but it's coming. (The knee) is not the way I want it. The next two days are big. I hope I am ready Saturday."

Redden has been skating for weeks but hasn't played since injuring his knee after tangling up with Mike Fisher during a one-on-one drill at practice on Nov. 23 at the Corel Centre. Spezza missed the Dec. 12 game against the Colorado Avalanche because of a nagging hip flexor injury. Kelly suffered a bruised right foot in that game against the Avalanche and didn't skate at practice on Wednesday.

Tonight's starter in goal for the Senators is Ray Emery. He was caught a bit off guard when he was told he would play.

"I didn't expect it, when looking at the schedule. This is a good test for myself. I was really disappointed with my last game so I want to get back on track."

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