Sens hoping third time’s a charm against Habs

The Ottawa Senators have a number of reasons to be wary of the Montreal Canadiens.

MONTREAL — The Ottawa Senators have a number of reasons to be wary of the Montreal Canadiens.

The first is that they haven’t played well against them this season. The Canadiens have won both meetings, both in Ottawa, 2-1 and 6-2.

Second, after the latest episode of turmoil, the trade of Mike Cammalleri to the Calgary Flames midway through Thursday’s game in Boston against the Bruins, the Canadiens will be looking to win back their fans when they return to the Bell Centre. That will almost certainly mean a furious start the Senators will have to weather.

The Senators know the feeling. They’ve had a lot of experience being that team on the bottom looking up.

But the Senators are also feeling very confident these days.

They’ve convincingly won the first two games of this road trip, 5-1 over the Penguins and 3-0 over the Rangers, they’ve won seven of their last eight games, and they’re fifth in the Eastern Conference, eight points inside the playoff cutoff.

And that’s not a fluke, either, said captain Daniel Alfredsson, who said the club doesn’t have to worry about overconfidence.

“We don’t have to guard against that, and the only reason I say that is that we’ve played too well for too long,” he said. “I’m not saying that we’re not going to go on losing streaks, but for this to go to our heads, I can’t see it.

“Our work ethic has been good every night, and if you don’t go out and play hard every night, you’re not going to have a good chance of winning. We respect every team we play, we’re not going to take anything for granted, and that’s why it feels so good to be winning, because we’re earning it.

“We’re not getting lucky all the time. We’re doing a lot of good things, putting ourselves in a good position, and we’ve had players step up each and every night.”

This stretch is a particularly tough one for the Senators. After Saturday night’s game against the Canadiens, they play the Winnipeg Jets at home on Monday before heading out on a five-game road trip to Toronto and the western United States.

So to win the first two games of this road trip is significant.

“Especially on the eastern part of this trip, because you can have four-point swings just by winning a game,” said Jason Spezza.

“It becomes real important when you’re playing a team within your division and your conference, so if we can win this one (today), we’ll have a good start to the trip, for sure.”

As he did before the game against the Rangers, coach Paul MacLean will talk to his team Saturday morning about being overconfident and underestimating the Canadiens, though after losing to the Canadiens twice, the Senators should know better.

But it’s also good, said MacLean, to savour the moment. That’s what Friday was about. The practice was only 24 minutes long and MacLean will wait until Saturday morning before taking a look at the Canadiens.

“I think when you win, you have to enjoy it,” he said.

“Like, winning is fun, so you should have fun. And then Saturday morning we’ll come here for the pre-game skate, we’ll be able to get them back, and get them focused and make them realize you they’re playing.

“We’ll get on to that stuff the first thing Saturday morning but I think it’s important that they’re allowed to enjoy winning.”

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