The Ottawa Senators finish up a 4 game road trip with a chance to come away with 5 of a possible 8 points despite some substandard play when they visit a new conference rival for the final time this season.
TV: Rogers Sportsnet ; RADIO : TSN1200
This is the third and final meeting of the clubs this season. Each team has come away with a 4-1 victory in the other team’s barn.
Both of these teams are coming off losses to the Carolina Hurricanes. Ottawa has had a couple days off since their usual afternoon stinker and 6-3 loss in Raleigh, while the Blue Jackets gave up 3 goals in the final 9 minutes to blow a 2-0 lead and lost 3-2 last night.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Craig Anderson, OTT – Can Anderson finally put together some consistency, not only game to game, but within a game itself. Bad goals have plagued the Senators this year and they aren’t going to make any ground until the goaltending gets shored up.
Nathan Horton, CBJ – Will be making his debut against the Senators as a member of the Blue Jackets. It’s no coincidence that the Blue Jackets got hot and rose up the standings once their prized summer free agent finally got into action after missing the first half of the season with a shoulder surgery. He has 4 goals and 3 assists in his 12 games with Columbus.
TOP 3 STORYLINES FOR THE GAME
1. Who’s In Net?: With reigning Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky giving up 3 goals in the third, he could get a rest tonight and the Senators might get to see former Ottawa goalie (for 7 games) Curtis McElhinney in the net.
2. Back To The Old Ways?: AFter seemingnly getting out of some bad habits during their recent hot stretch, the Senators have returned to their old ways, giving up too many shots and allowing weak goals. The whole team needs to get together and play as a 19 man unit and be on the same page.
3. EK is OK: Erik Karlsson is back, if there was any doubt. His defense has been shored up substantially since the early season blues, and he is the on-ice catalyst for almost everything offensively for this team. He also has 3 of the Senators’ five goals against Columbus this season.
As has been portrayed everywhere in the Ottawa media the past couple of days, never has an Ottawa-Columbus matchup meant so much. Eleven of the 13 teams between 3rd and 15th in the Eastern Conference are playing tonight, and many of them against one another. This will be a big night in terms of the pre-Olympic standings, as only 11 points separate 4th from 15th. The teams currently in spots want to get some separation while those trailing want to reel them in. These two points are extremely important. If the Senators get the two points they could end the night as close as 1 point out of the Wild Card. If they get nothing they could be as many as 5 points back with a lot of teams to jump over.