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Stretch drive to playoffs begins Saturday

by Staff Writer / Ottawa Senators
Senators forward Dany Heatley fires a shot on goal during the NHL all-star game. With 32 games remaining in the regular season, Heatley and the Sens look to continue their hot streak heading into the playoffs. Photo: Getty Images

by Todd Anderson

The Ottawa Senators begin their run to the Stanley Cup playoffs on Saturday when they host the Boston Bruins at 3 p.m. at Scotiabank Place. With 32 games left in the regular season, Saturday's matchup is one of 13 contests against Northeast Division opponents that remain on the schedule. Ottawa has a 12-7-0 record against their Northeast Division rivals this season.

Before taking a break during this week's NHL all-star festivities, the Senators defeated the Bruins 3-0 on Jan. 20. Head coach Bryan Murray said he felt the break would help re-energize his players heading into the crucial part of the schedule.

"I think some bodies need to be rested up. There's no question we've got some bumps and bruises and a few guys that are sick," Murray said on Jan. 19. "Mentally, too, just to get away from the every day push, I think it's a chance for them to get away, take a breath, and come back and know there's 32 games left and play accordingly."

The Senators have been on a winning streak - 11-2-1 in their last 14 games - from late December into January and have moved up to fifth in the Eastern Conference, just one point behind the Montreal Canadiens for fourth. Ottawa and Montreal will face each other four more times in the final three months of the season.

The rest of the Senators' schedule includes 16 games against teams from other divisions in the Eastern Conference and a trio of Western Conference matchups, including the Edmonton Oilers on Feb. 20 at Scotiabank Place, former teammate Martin Havlat and the Chicago Blackhawks in Chicago on March 4 and the St. Louis Blues on March 20 in St. Louis.

Heatley teams up with trade partner at all-star game
Ottawa Senators forward Dany Heatley scored a goal and two assists during the 2007 NHL All-Star Game in Dallas on Wednesday while playing on a line with Marian Hossa, the player for whom he was traded in 2005. Former Senator and current Atlanta Thrasher Hossa played the right wing with Heatley, while Buffalo Sabre Daniel Brière, a native of Gatineau, Que., played centre.

Brière was named the all-star game MVP after scoring a goal and four assists. Hossa had four assists in the match.

Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Tomas Kaberle was given the nod to wear No. 15 because he has played more NHL games than Heatley, who wears the same number. The Senators star opted to wear No. 16 in the game because his childhood idol, Brett Hull, wore No. 16.

Click here for more from the 2007 NHL All-Star Game.

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