NHL

Senators look to tie franchise wins record on TSN

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TSN.ca Staff
1/28/2010 12:58:51 PM
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The Ottawa Senators are riding an impressive seven-game win streak and are one victory away from tying a team record for consecutive victories.

The Sens will attempt to match the mark in Pittsburgh against the Penguins on Thursday. The team won eight in a row from Oct. 13 - Nov. 6, 2007.

You can catch the game on TSN and TSN HD beginning at 7pm et/4pm pt.

In other games involving Canadian teams on Thursday, the struggling Flames travel to Phoenix to take on the Coyotes and the woeful Oilers host the St. Louis Blues.

"When you see how tough the league is and when you put a streak together like this it is really hard to do," explained Daniel Alfredsson.

The Senators have been able to rise above injuries to stars - Alfredsson (shoulder - 11 games), Jason Spezza (torn MCL - 20 games) - and currently sit fifth in the Eastern Conference standings; however head coach Cory Clouston refuses to take any credit. 

"This has nothing to do with me, this is the guys going out there and playing hard. We believe in what we are doing, I think the players believe in what we are doing and we have right from day one. And we are seeing the benefits of that," said Clouston on Wednesday.    

One of the keys to the Senators' success is their ability to get scoring from all four lines. Ottawa's depth has enabled them to ride out injuries and has made them a difficult team to shut down.

"Depth is always a good thing, when you don't have to rely on one or two guys [the opposition] can't just key on one line, [they] can't shut one line down and if [they do] you have two or three other lines that can score,” said Clouston. "It makes it that much more difficult to check and defend against."

"We've had a lot of guys in and out of the line-up, myself included, and everybody has fit back in seamlessly when they come back in," Jason Spezza told reporters. "Guys have picked up the slack when players have been out so it's definitely a good sign."

The confidence level is there for Ottawa, especially at ScotiaBank Place where they have a 19-8-3 record and the Senators believe they can recover from any setback.

"We don't take anything for granted, we just get everybody working hard and confidence helps out because we are not stressing if we get behind or get a bad break. We keep playing,” said Alfredsson. "I'm sure if we lose a game here or there we will bounce back and do the same thing; we just have to keep plugging away."

"Obviously when you are winning you play with a lot of confidence and the mood in the room is upbeat, guys are having a good time," Spezza said. "It's hand in hand - when you are winning, you are having fun and when you are having fun, you are winning."

A positive attitude helps, but Clouston knows that his team's win streak would not be possible without support from the team's last line of defence.

"We are getting some very good goaltending and that helps, you can do whatever you want out there but if Brian [Elliott] hadn't been as good as he has been lately, it doesn't matter what happens. That's where it starts, he gives us confidence, he's playing very well and we couldn't ask any more from him."

Elliott has carried the load for Ottawa with veteran Pascal Leclaire having missed a good portion of the season. The 24-year-old Elliott has 15-11-3 record with a 2.57 GAA and .906 save percentage over 31 games.

"We did a good job not getting too low, when we were having hard times and now the hard part is not getting too high and losing concentration. We have to respect every team that comes in, but we know we can play with anybody, so we have to look forward."

While his team has been playing well and he is happy with the personnel, general manager Bryan Murray said he would not rule out looking to add a player at the NHL's trade deadline.

"Our overall team depth and organization is good, obviously if there is a chance to be better, we want to do that, but for the moment, if we continue to play at a good level and stay somewhat healthy I think we are a good team."

Calgary at Phoenix

Now mired in their longest losing streak in more than a decade, the Calgary Flames will attempt to avoid the franchise's worst slide in over 24 years when they take the ice against the Phoenix Coyotes tonight at Jobing.com Arena.

The Flames have been dealt eight straight defeats for the first time since December 22, 1998-January 5, 1999 and fallen from first to third place in the Northwest Division due to the slide. One more loss would give Calgary its longest skid since the 1985-86 campaign, when it dropped nine games in a row from December 14-January 7 of that season.

Calgary was at least able to record a point in its most recent time out, but the club failed to hold onto a two-goal lead in a disappointing 4-3 shootout loss in Dallas last night.

The Stars trailed 3-1 late in the second period before drawing even on goals by James Neal and Brad Richards, with the latter coming on the power play with 12:25 left in regulation. Loui Eriksson later gave Dallas the win by slipping a backhand shot past Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff in the third round of the shootout.

"It was a tough loss, but it's a point in the right direction," said Calgary captain Jarome Iginla. "For two periods, we played really good."

Iginla finished with a goal and an assist in the setback, while Kiprusoff recorded 33 saves between regulation and overtime. Iginla halted an 11-game stretch without a goal and recorded his first marker since January 2 against Toronto.

The Flames have gone 0-6-2 during their winless drought and have fallen into an eighth-place tie with Detroit in the Western Conference standings.

Phoenix, on the other hand, enters tonight's clash off an uplifting come-from- behind victory on Tuesday, when the team scored three unanswered goals to rally for a thrilling 5-4 overtime triumph on the road over Detroit.

The Coyotes trailed 4-2 late in the third period, but received goals from Keith Yandle and Ed Jovanovski over the final 1:30 of regulation to force overtime. Shane Doan completed the comeback win with 1:10 remaining in the extra session, when he lifted a shot from close range over the shoulder of Red Wings netminder Jimmy Howard.

"It says a lot about our team to be able to come back like this," said Jovanovski, whose game-tying goal came with just 23 seconds left in the third period with the team having pulled goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov.

Phoenix now gets to return to the friendly confines of Jobing.com Arena, where the team has amassed a strong 19-8-2 record this season. One of those wins came at the expense of the Flames, a 2-1 verdict on December 3 in which Bryzgalov stopped 28-of-29 shots.

Calgary has gone a respectable 14-8-4 as the visitor, however, and has emerged victorious in four of its last five trips to Glendale.

St. Louis at Edmonton

The Edmonton Oilers will once again try for their first win since the start of the new year when they welcome the St. Louis Blues for tonight's battle at Rexall Place.

The Oilers have lost 11 consecutive games since last earning a win over Toronto on December 30, and the club has also tasted defeat in 18 of its last 19 trips to the ice. Edmonton's last 12-game slide was from February 25-March 21, 2007.

Edmonton will try to end the slide in tonight's finale of a four-game homestand. The Oilers have lost seven straight as the host and have a dismal 9-15-4 record at home this season.

However, the Oilers are expecting some good news tonight, as forward Mike Comrie appears ready to return from a lengthy bout of mononucleosis. Comrie, who has five goals and three assists in 16 games this year, hasn't played since November 16 because of the illness. He is questionable for this evening's game, as is fellow forward Gilbert Brule, who has sat out the last seven tests with flu-like symptoms.

Edmonton's latest setback came Tuesday night against Chicago. Jonathan Toews scored inside the first minute for the Blackhawks, who led the rest of the way en route to the 4-2 victory.

Fernando Pisani and Ryan Potulny scored for the Oilers, who fell to 0-9-2 during their epic slide. Jeff Deslauriers allowed four goals on 37 shots in the loss.

"We knew they were a hard team and they were coming strong," Deslauriers said of the Blackhawks. "We did a good job. We made a few mistakes, but we have to be strong and learn from those."

The Oilers will play their next game on the road in Calgary, but will then return to Edmonton for a two-game homestand.

St. Louis has lost three of its last four games and is coming off a close regulation loss Wednesday in Vancouver. Christian Erhoff scored the game- winner in the third period, leading the Canucks to the 3-2 victory at General Motors Place.

Keith Tkachuk and T.J. Oshie each lit the lamp for the Blues, while Ty Conklin was charged with three goals on 34 shots in the loss.

St. Louis is closing out a three-game road trip tonight and is 14-8-4 as the visiting team this season. Next up for the Blues is Saturday's home test against Columbus.

The Oilers and Blues have split a pair of meetings this year, but St. Louis dominated in a 7-2 victory at Edmonton on December 21. That victory ended an eight-game slide in the series for St. Louis, which has still lost nine of its last 13 against the Oilers. The clubs have split the last six encounters at Rexall Place.

Daniel Alfredsson (Photo: Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)
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