Rather, the visitors in tonight's Northeast Division showdown at the Bell Centre believe they're simply bringing a better game to the ice than they showed in two previous losses this season against the Montreal Canadiens.
"We're definitely going in the right direction," captain Daniel Alfredsson
said following the Senators' pre-game skate earlier today. "We've improved in a lot of areas and you can tell, too, that we're more poised with the puck. We're not just thinking in terms of 'okay, let's not get scored on' and giving the puck away all the time. That's something that comes with confidence."
With five wins in their last seven outings, the Senators are definitely carrying a much better mindset into the Bell Centre this evening (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200). Both previous meetings with the Habs — a 4-3 loss here on Oct. 16, followed by a 3-0 blanking at Scotiabank Place a week later — came before Ottawa began to bust out of its early-season funk.
While the Senators risen into a playoff position — at 6-6-1, they currently stand eighth in the Eastern Conference — they're still looking up at the Canadiens, who lead the Northeast with an 8-4-1 record after Friday night's 3-2 victory in Buffalo.
"We thought we played a good first half of a game the last time we were here," said Alfredsson. "We were up 3-1 and made some good plays to tie it up and win it. We know Montreal. They're a good, structured team. They play well defensively and they've got a lot of skill offensively. You've got to manage the puck well against them."Michalek back on ice, won't play tonight
He won't play tonight, but the Senators were heartened to see forward Milan Michalek
on the ice during the pre-game skate. So, too, is the speedy Czech winger, who was forced to the sidelines last week with tendinitis in his surgically repaired knee.
"I wanted to try it out and see how it is," said Michalek. "It's getting better and I feel good on the ice so, hopefully, sometime this (coming) week I can play."
That's what head coach Cory Clouston is hoping for, too.
"He's skating well," Clouston said of Michalek. "We'll see how it is after this but that's a big plus. We'll cross our fingers and hope he can have a good practice on Monday. I guess the best-case scenario would be to play Tuesday (against the Atlanta Thrashers at Scotiabank Place)."Around the boards
After spending a night with the American Hockey League's Binghamton Senators, forward Zack Smith
has been recalled to the big club and will be in the lineup against the Canadiens. "It was an opportunity for him to play more," Clouston said about Smith's one-game demotion. "But he's got to play more assertive (with us). He's got to play with a little bit of an edge, but still make sure he's playing with discipline." ... Tonight's game marks the 10th straight start for Senators goaltender Brian Elliott ... Ottawa's next two game are at home — Tuesday against the Thrashers (7:30 p.m., Sportsnet East, Team 1200) and Thursday versus the Vancouver Canucks (7:30 p.m., Sportsnet Sens, Team 1200).