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Sens hungry for satisfying finish

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
They’re now assured of at least a split on the first big road trip of the season.

But the Ottawa Senators will be after much more than that when they hit the ice against the revamped Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night at St. Pete Times Forum (no TV, Team 1200).

With back-to-back victories against the Buffalo Sabres and Florida Panthers now in the bank, the Senators can make it six points on this four-game trip with a third straight win against the Bolts. Head coach Craig Hartsburg merely wants to see more of the positive signs his team has shown this week, and said it’ll take a top effort to subdue a Tampa team that is on a bit of a roll itself.

“The players just have to focus on playing their best game of the trip tomorrow,” he said. “That should be their focus. We need to put a full 60 minutes together like we did against Buffalo (on Monday night) and be even better.”

While the Senators were dominant in vanquishing the Sabres, it was another story on Wednesday night. Ottawa trailed 1-0 for a large chunk of the game in Sunrise, Fla., before getting third-period goals from Dany Heatley (on the power play) and Chris Kelly to squeeze out a 2-1 victory.

“The good sign is that I thought emotionally in the third period, we were really strong,” said Hartsburg. “We were very hungry in the third period. Scoring on the power play was huge for us and the talk on the bench – we’ve got to stay with it – was real positive.

“We weren’t willing to accept what was happening when we were down 1-0. It was a good sign and that’s a positive.”

Centre Mike Fisher said it’s something the Senators can carry forward whenever they find themselves in tight spots down the road.

“We just stuck with it,” he said. “We knew we didn’t have our ‘A’ game by any means but we were feeling good going into the third.

“We’ve got to stay up and not get discouraged, no matter what the score of the game is. We’ve just got to make sure we’re being positive, help each other out on the bench and try to encourage each other as much as possible. I thought we did a pretty good job of that (Wednesday) night.”

Around the boards

Hartsburg will stick with the hot hand in goal, giving Alex Auld his fourth straight start. “He’s playing well and we just want to keep things going,” said Hartsburg. “He deserves to play again” … Defenceman Chris Phillips sat out today’s practice to rest a bruised foot suffered a few weeks back, but Hartsburg said “he’ll be fine” to go against the Lightning … Saturday’s game isn’t even a home telecast for Tampa, so there is no TV broadcast anywhere.

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