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Sens wary of Capitals' threat

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
On the night America elects its next president, the Ottawa Senators will cast a vote for a strong, united defensive front.

Really, they've got little choice in that area. Not with Alex Ovechkin and the explosive Washington Capitals paying a visit to Scotiabank Place on Tuesday night (7:30 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet East, Team 1200).

After dropping all four games to the Caps last season – and being outscored 22-12 in the process – the Senators are well aware of the challenge they'll face tonight. No doubt they also vividly recall the four-goal outing Ovechkin enjoyed in an 8-6 Washington triumph here last December.

"They're a team that plays with great energy offensively and if you don't match that with your defensive energy, they're going to make you play," head coach Craig Hartsburg said after the Senators' pre-game skate this morning. "If we can match that and then try to turn some pucks over, we should be able to get some chances.

"It is a chore. (Ovechkin) is not an easy guy to contain and it's going to take all five guys on the ice to make sure they're responsible."

Meaning more of the structured defensive play the Senators showed in road victories over the Buffalo Sabres and Florida Panthers last week is paramount against Ovechkin, who is back in the Washington lineup after missing two games last week to be with his ailing grandfather in Russia.

"We've got to be smart and, coming home off a road trip, be ready to play and be focused," said centre Mike Fisher, whose line figures to see plenty of duty against Ovechkin tonight. "(The Capitals) always play us tough and we know we're going to have to have our best (effort).

"We're going to focus tonight on shutting down some of their top guys and being hard to play against."

Added captain Daniel Alfredsson: "The neutral zone is crucial. Don't give them a lot of time and space. If we back-check hard and clog up the neutral zone, we're going to hopefully frustrate them. They've got so much skill, they'll probably create some chances but we've got to limit them."

A night to salute our troops

Tonight's game has been designated as Canadian Forces Appreciation Night. More than 2,250 members of the Canadian Forces and their families will be in attendance at the game, thanks to ticket donations by CF supporters and Senators fans. A number of in-game activities are planned as a salute to our armed forces personnel.

Around the boards

12 on 'em - Fisher Goal Song, a popular recording by Thousand Foot Krutch, can be yours starting tonight at The Sens Store at Scotiabank Place. The CD sells for $5, with 100 per cent of the proceeds being donated to Roger's House through the Sens Foundation ... Four Senators are on the XM/NHL All-Star Fan Ballot for the 2009 game, to be played Jan. 25 at Montreal's Bell Centre. The group includes forwards Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza and defenceman Chris Phillips. Balloting opens Nov. 12 ... Alex Auld (3-2-1) will make his sixth straight start in the Senators net ... Defenceman Luke Richardson is tonight's healthy scratch ... Fewer than 1,500 tickets remain for the game.

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