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Sens must pull together now

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Chris Kelly (left), Antoine Vermette and the Senators hope to end a 12-game road winless streak on Tuesday night when they face the Oilers in Edmonton (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images).

United, they need to stand, and perhaps like never before.

In the wake of a 3-0 shutout loss at the hands of the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night, the Ottawa Senators find themselves caught in the grip of a 12-game road winless skid that is becoming a more imposing mountain with each passing day. Ottawa hasn't won away from Scotiabank Place since dumping the Florida Panthers 2-1 on Oct. 30.

The task doesn't get any easier on Tuesday night. Up next for the Senators are the Edmonton Oilers, who will ride a three-game winning streak into their matchup at Rexall Place (10 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet East, Team 1200). Senators head coach Craig Hartsburg believes it'll take a top-notch collective effort for his team to avoid dropping to 0-4 on its current road trip.

"We need their best game individually and we need their best as a team," he said after the Senators' worked out earlier today in Vancouver before making their way to Edmonton. "We have to play our best and we've got to start to do that every night. For us, it's about 60 minutes. Right from the start of the game, we have to be a hungry, desperate hockey team.

"Right now, we're in a tough, tough situation and this is the time you find out a lot about people and your team sticking together and sticking through it. And it's about everybody, not just a handful of players."

While the calendar hasn't yet turned into 2009, the Senators aren't minimizing the task at hand. They're 10 points shy of an Eastern Conference playoff berth and have three teams (Carolina, Florida and Toronto) sitting between them and the eighth-place Buffalo Sabres.

"It's not too early to start talking about desperate hockey," said Senators centre Jason Spezza. "We're five games under .500 and we're not playing well as a team. We play well in spurts. We have to be a desperate club and start getting some wins."

Added centre Mike Fisher: "We've got ourselves into a hole, now the challenge is to get ourselves back out of it, get rolling and get where we need to be.... We believe we can turn it around. It's just a matter of doing it and getting rolling."

There's nothing magic about the formula that can make it happen.

"We've got ourselves into a hole, now the challenge is to get ourselves back out of it, get rolling and get where we need to be.... We believe we can turn it around. It's just a matter of doing it and getting rolling." - Mike Fisher
"The group of guys that we have are the group of guys that got us into the hole and they're the group of guys that have to get us out of it," said forward Chris Neil. "We've just got to go out and work hard."

Said Hartsburg: "Everybody really has to step up right now. Throughout the year, you talk about certain guys having to step up but now it really is the group that has to step up."

With 48 games still left in their season, "it's definitely still possible" to grab a playoff spot, said Spezza.

"There are a lot of hockey games left," he said. "We've just got to start winning games and get feeling good about ourselves."

Around the boards

Defenceman Anton Volchenkov (upper body) skated briefly before practice today but Hartsburg said the big blueliner is "questionable at best" for the Oilers game ... Fellow blueliner Filip Kuba (groin) has already been ruled out ... Martin Gerber (3-7-1) will make his second straight start in goal ... The Senators are 0-10-2 in their last 12 road games and have a league-low three wins away from home ... Ottawa and Edmonton last played on Feb. 20, 2007, with the Senators prevailing 4-3 in a shootout.

They're Sens-ational Swedes

A pair of Senators prospects fattened their statistics in helping Sweden roll past Slovakia 10-1 earlier today at the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship. Defenceman Erik Karlsson and forward Andre Petersson each collected a goal and two assists for the Swedes, now a perfect 3-0-0 in the WJC. Karlsson, who shares the team's scoring lead in the tournament, was the Senators' top pick (15th overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft at Scotiabank Place, while Petersson was selected in the fourth round (109th overall).

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