They'd love to finish their homestand with a flourish.
When the Ottawa Senators tangle with the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight (7 p.m., TSN, Team 1200), it'll mark the end of their longest stretch of play at Scotiabank Place this season. And they've got a chance to wrap it up with a four-game winning streak.
All the more reason for the Senators (26-29-10), who stand 12th in the Eastern Conference, not to take the 14th-place Lightning (21-32-13) too lightly.
"Where we are in the standings ... we want to have as many teams behind us (as possible) at the end of the year and Tampa is one of them," said captain Daniel Alfredsson
after the Senators' pre-game skate earlier today. "We can't let them gain on us. I don't think it will be a problem for us at all to get up and get motivated and play a good game."
While the Senators' chances of extending their run of playoff appearances to 12 is slim, head coach Cory Clouston believes it's important for the team to keep building on its current momentum.
"We're playing to win. We're playing to create momentum," he said. "We still want to go out there and compete. We're pros... when they put on their jerseys, they want to compete. That's why they're in a sport. They want to be their best and they realize we've created some momentum here.
"We feel we've got the team pointed in the right direction and they want to keep (that going). It feels good to go out on the ice and practise after you've competed hard, you've executed your game plan and you come away with two points. That's what we're looking at."
"We feel we've got the team pointed in the right direction and they want to keep (that going). It feels good to go out on the ice and practice after you've competed hard, you've executed your game plan and you come away with two points. That's what we're looking at." - Cory Clouston
Added Alfredsson: "You're a competitive person and you hate to lose, I guess, especially (in games) where you feel you're the better team. Sometimes, those are the toughest games to play but as far as motivation goes, I see no problem (tonight)."
Meanwhile, forward Chris Neil
(lacerated right calf) appears closer to a potential return on Thursday night, when the Senators travel to Boston to face the conference-leading Bruins (7 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200).
"Gerry (Townend, the team's head athletic therapist) asked me yesterday how I was feeling and I think we had Saturday in our sights," Neil said of the Senators' matinee matchup against the Penguins in Pittsburgh (3 p.m., CBC, Team 1200). "But hopefully, I can get back in the lineup tomorrow. That would be nice. I even thought about tonight but ... they wanted to make sure I got a couple of games under my belt before we try (playing) back-to-back."Around the boardsFilip Kuba
(flu) is out for the second straight game but Clouston is hopeful that the veteran blueliner will be good to go on Thursday in Boston. "We're crossing our fingers," he said ... Brian Elliott (10-4-3) makes the start in goal against the Bolts. He's been between the pipes for every game during the Sens' current winning streak ... Fewer than 1,500 tickets remain for tonight's game.