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Sens hope to bolt home with win

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
The time for talking is over.

Now the Ottawa Senators get a chance to heed their coaching staff’s words when they face the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night at St. Pete Times Forum (7:30 p.m., A-Channel, Team 1200). It’s the Sens’ last game before the National Hockey League’s four-day all-star break, which begins Friday.

It’s the final stop on a three-game road trip.

Senators head coach John Paddock said the message tonight is a simple one for his team, which has gone 1-4-1 since knocking off the NHL-leading Detroit Red Wings 3-2 back on Jan. 12 at Scotiabank Place.

“Play the game right and play with some urgency. That’s really it,” Paddock said after the Senators’ pre-game skate. “Play like we have played. Come with the focus we had when we played Detroit.”

The Senators and Lightning last played five days ago, with the Bolts prevailing 2-0 in a game that saw Ottawa hit the ice without two-thirds of its No. 1 line – injured captain Daniel Alfredsson (hip flexor) and Dany Heatley (separated shoulder). Alfredsson has since returned for the Sens, who are hoping a run of recent success in Tampa, Fla., continues – they’ve won five of their last seven at St. Pete Times Forum.

The Lightning had lost five straight at home before edging Edmonton 4-3 on Tuesday, part of their current three-game winning streak.

“We’re in one of our low spots, so we’d like nothing better than to get it going better tonight in a rink that we’re familiar with and have played well in (recently),” said Paddock.

Martin Gerber (21-8-1) gets the start in goal tonight for Ottawa.

After the contest with the Bolts, Alfredsson, Paddock and centre Jason Spezza head off to Atlanta for all-star weekend festivities. Paddock will be the head coach for the Eastern Conference in Sunday night’s game.

“It’s a reflection of the season that the team has had to date and everybody associated with our team, and you sort of get the gravy out of it,” Paddock said of the honour. “But it’s going to be an exciting time to be around most of the stars of the game.”

The Senators return to action Tuesday in Uniondale, N.Y., against the Islanders (7 p.m., Sens TV, Team 1200). Their next home game is Jan. 31 vs. the Boston Bruins at Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200). About 400 tickets remain for the game.

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