Check out the NHL game notes for tonight's Ottawa-Florida matchup.
|Brian Elliott and the Senators aim to make it two straight home wins when the Florida Panthers make a visit to Scotiabank Place tonight (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).
One step forward, one step back ... It's a dance the Ottawa Senators have been fighting to end throughout the season's opening month.
But the time is clearly at hand to stop the music, so to speak.
When the Senators hit the ice against the Florida Panthers at Scotiabank Place tonight (7 p.m., Sportsnet Sens, Team 1200), they'll have some streaky thoughts top of mind. As in, their first back-to-back victories of this young season, not to mention continuing to build on Tuesday's 5-2 home-ice triumph over the Phoenix Coyotes.
"It's huge," forward Jarkko Ruutu said of making the most of tonight's opportunity. "You want to make a streak. You’ve got to get into winning habits and a winning streak, because winning is a habit just like losing is a habit. It won’t be easy but I think if we come out like we did the last game and get things going our way, get a couple of hits and some energy from that, it’s easy to build on.
"Once you start rolling and get things going for yourself, it builds confidence and totally changes the game. It’s a lot easier to play with the lead than from behind."
With wins tonight against the Panthers and Saturday at home against the Boston Bruins, the Senators (3-5-1) can emerge from October at the .500 mark and riding a wave of confidence heading into the season's second month.
"For us, it's about momentum," defenceman Matt Carkner
said following the Senators' pre-game skate earlier today. "It's about gaining confidence in the team and ourselves, and putting together some wins."
Not that anyone is looking past a Florida team that is hungry to erase the sting of a 3-1 loss in Toronto on Tuesday night and features Tomas Vokoun, one of the National Hockey League's elite goaltenders.
"It's huge. You want to make a streak. You’ve got to get into winning habits and a winning streak, because winning is a habit just like losing is a habit. It won’t be easy but I think if we come out like we did the last game and get things going our way, get a couple of hits and some energy from that, it’s easy to build on. Once you start rolling and get things going for yourself, it builds confidence and totally changes the game. It’s a lot easier to play with the lead than from behind." - Jarkko Ruutu
"We're going to see very good goaltending (tonight)," Senators head coach Cory Clouston said of the Panthers. "They skate well, they work hard, they're strong on the forecheck and I think they're going to be a little bit motivated because of the last game. We expect them to come with a lot of intensity."
Added captain Daniel Alfredsson
: "We have to try to be a little more consistent and at the same time, the way we approach it is doing what we can control — the way we play, the way we execute out there. Playing Florida, they’re a well-coached team against pretty much anybody and we’ve got to play smart. We did a good job the last game of generating more offence and we’d like to keep that up."
Ruutu sees a team that is heading in the right direction.
"We're on the way," he said. "I don't think we're there yet. You have to work hard. You always get rewarded in the end if you work hard and smart. We're doing the right things, we're getting better and better and we just have to build on it."
And tonight, at least, end that waltz of frustration.
"We took a big step forward the last game but every time we've taken one forward (so far), we've always taken one backward," said defenceman Chris Campoli. "So we've got to keep building on the positives. (Tuesday) was a good game, but it was one game and we know that. Tonight, we've got to come ready to play. It's important."Around the boards
Forward Milan Michalek
didn't take part in the pre-game skate but will be in the lineup tonight. The Senators are being careful early in the season with Michalek, who had off-season surgery to repair a torn ACL in his knee. "After a game, it gets a little bit tender and we want to keep him fresh for the games," said Clouston. "That's basically the bottom line. Especially when we're playing three games in five nights, we just want to make sure we're not aggravating it in a morning skate." ... There is no timetable yet for the return of goaltender Pascal Leclaire, who didn't skate this morning. "I think (his progress) has basically stagnated," said Clouston. "Until he feels better the next day, he's not going to go on the ice." ... Brian Elliott gets the start in net against the Panthers tonight ... The Senators will wear black jerseys for the first time this season. Their all-time record is 67-33-7-11 when sporting that colour.