Gameday Preview: Senators at Hurricanes

It may only be the end of January, but this game has some serious playoff implications for the Senators and Hurricanes.

Ottawa Senators (22-19-10)
@
Carolina Hurricanes (22-19-9)
PNC Arena: 12:00 pm ET
Television: Sportsnet East

Backstory…

This game was originally slated to be played last night, but Tuesday night’s contest between the Hurricanes and Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center was postponed because of a inclement weather in Philadelphia. Due to this postponement, the NHL rescheduled their game for Wednesday and moved Carolina’s game versus Ottawa to this afternoon to accommodate the Flyers and Hurricanes.

This is the second meeting between the Hurricanes and Senators this season. In their first game on Nov. 24, the Hurricanes conceded a goal to Jason Spezza one minute and seven seconds into the game before scoring four unanswered goals.

Robin Lehner stopped 33 of 36 shots in the loss, while Cam Ward had 35 saves for the win.

Storylines…

It may only be the end of January, but this game has some serious playoff implications for the Senators and Hurricanes. Philadelphia currently holds down the Eastern Conference’s second wild card seed with 56 points, but a win for Ottawa (54 points) or Carolina (53 points) will help close that gap.

The PNC Arena has not been kind to the Senators over the years. In Ottawa’s past 11 games in Carolina, they are 1-9-1. Their only win occurred in a shootout back on October 25, 2011.

With the Senators’ modest one game winning streak over following their 4-3 shootout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, head coach Paul MacLean has decided to shuffle his lineup; which means Marc Methot will make his anticipated return to the Ottawa lineup after being made a healthy scratch in the team’s past two games.

To make room for Methot on the blue line, Patrick Wiercioch will draw out for the Sens.

Much like the Senators, the Hurricanes have been able to keep pace in the playoff bubble picture thanks to some improved play. They are 7-3-0 in their last ten and can thank their first line for carrying the offence.

According to Leftwinglock.com, the Hurricanes’ trio of Alex Semin, Eric Staal and Jiri Tlusty have combined for five even strength goals in the past three games, tying the Rangers trio of Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan and Rick Nash for most goals in the NHL during this span.

Added to Russia’s Olympic team on Tuesday as an injury replacement, Semin has goals in his last four games.

Anton Khudobin will start for the Hurricanes. In three career appearances versus the Senators, he has unblemished 3-0-0 record complemented by some exceptional peripherals — a 1.33 goals against average and a save percentage of .967.

Starting in nets for the Senators will be Robin Lehner. Saturday marks Lehner’s first start since Ottawa’s 3-0 shutout in Minnesota and it is only his second start since Dec. 27.

Interesting Stat #1

By moving Ottawa’s game from Friday night to Saturday afternoon, fans overjoyed by the news that the team no longer had to play in back-to-back games will cringe when they realize that the Senators have been equally as mediocre when they play in afternoon games.

Record

Goals For

Goals Against

2nd Game of Back-to-Backs

1-5-2

18

29

Games Started before 6pm

1-7-2

19

38

*Note: games that ended in shootout did not have their game winning goal accounted for in the goals for and against columns

Interesting Stat #2

The last time the Senators won in regulation in Carolina was Dec. 12, 2007. The Senators won 6-0 and Dany Heatley paced the offence with two goals. Dean McAmmond, Jason Spezza, Mike Fisher and Shean Donovan scored the other four. Ray Emery got the decision, despite coming out of the game after the first five minutes and twenty-four seconds of the game had elapsed.

Interesting Stat #3

In scoring his 100th career goal with the Ottawa Senators versus Tampa Bay on Thursday, Chris Neil became just the eleventh player in franchise history to score 100 or more goals playing for the Senators.

Rk

Playere

Games Played

Goals

1

Daniel Alfredsson

1178

426

2

Jason Spezza

657

241

3

Alexei Yashin

504

218

4

Marian Hossa

467

188

5

Dany Heatley

317

180

6

Mike Fisher

675

167

7

Radek Bonk

689

152

8

Shawn McEachern

454

142

9

Martin Havlat

298

105

10

Wade Redden

838

101

11

Chris Neil

824

100

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