Senators give Auld the start against Washington

The Ottawa Senators will give goalie Alex Auld his first start of the season Saturday against the Washington Capitals. Starter Craig Anderson has been bombarded with pucks this season, averaging more than 32 shots against per game over four starts. He hasn’t been able to stanch the flow of rubber into Ottawa’s net, posting a .853 save percentage and 4.37 goals against average thus far.

Senators give Auld the start against Washington
PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 13: Jason Spezza #19 of the Ottawa Senators handles the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the game at Consol Energy Center on April 13, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Senators defeated the Penguins 3-2 in a shootout. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

The Ottawa Senators will give goalie Alex Auld his first start of the season Saturday against the Washington Capitals.

No. 1 netminder Craig Anderson has been bombarded with pucks this season, averaging more than 32 shots against per game over four starts. He hasn’t been able to stanch the flow of rubber into Ottawa’s net, posting a .853 save percentage and 4.37 goals against average thus far. He was torched for seven goals by the Colorado Avalanche — his former team — Thursday night.

Head coach Paul MacLean said the decision to go with Auld against the high-powered Caps had nothing to do with Anderson’s play, however.

“It’s just Alex’s turn to play,” MacLean said, though he didn’t let Anderson off the hook completely either. “I think as a team our play has been inconsistent, and that includes everybody.”

MacLean experimented with his lineup Thursday, dressing seven defencemen and 11 forwards, and though the early returns were poor, he said he’d consider doing it again.

“The minutes were lower but the results weren’t very good, obviously. The penalty killing part of it — them going four-for-six — had more to do with the outcome of the score than the five-on-five play.

“Being efficient in our own end of the ice and finding ways and having a good plan to get out of it is still a daily process and sometimes the learning bumps are pretty heavy, the potholes are deep.”

MacLean also announced winger Bobby Butler, already in a fight to stay in the lineup, won’t travel with the team to Washington after re-aggravating a groin injury.

The coach, along with general manager Bryan Murray, will have more roster decisions to make shortly. Rookie Mika Zibanejad can play nine games before the year counts against his entry-level deal, meaning the team will have to decide whether or not to keep him in the NHL or send him back to Sweden until next season at that point.

While Zibanejad has looked good at times, MacLean called his outing against the Avs his worst game in an Ottawa sweater.

MacLean said Zibanejad will play all nine games before the team makes the call.

He pointed out that the Senators’ other highly-touted rookie centre, Stephane Da Costa, also struggled badly.

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