Time For Division Rush
The Ottawa Senators know that they'll have no one to blame but themselves if they don't win the Northeast Division.
The Senators play the first of 10 remaining games against division opponents on Tuesday when they host the Boston Bruins.
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Ottawa (38-25-7) is in second place in the Northeast, two points behind Montreal and three ahead of Boston (36-25-8). And with all but two of their remaining games coming against division foes, the Senators know that they control their own destiny.
"We've got a lot of divisional games, which is going to determine where we finish," center Mike Fisher told the Senators' official Web site. "We've got to be hungry. It means a lot. We've played well against some of these teams in big games, and that's what we have to do."
The Senators have three games remaining against both the Canadiens and the Bruins. Boston plays nine of its last 13 against division opponents.
Ottawa has won three of five against the Bruins this season, but has been outscored 13-7 and dropped the last two meetings. Boston's Tim Thomas made 22 saves and Zdeno Chara scored twice in a 4-0 home win on Feb. 26 in the last matchup.
The Senators ended a three-game losing streak on Saturday, winning 4-2 at Phoenix. Fisher scored two goals - his first in 19 games - for Ottawa, which improved to 2-3-1 since John Paddock was fired and general manager Bryan Murray returned as coach.
"It's a big two points," said Antoine Vermette, who also scored. "The standings are very tight, but more important for us is to get that feeling back. Hopefully we can carry it over now."
The Senators were coming off a 2-0 defeat in Los Angeles - their third shutout loss in seven games. Aside from a 5-4 win over Pittsburgh on March 1, they had managed only four total goals in six of their previous seven games despite ranking among the best offensive teams in the league with 3.14 goals per contest.
"It was getting out of hand," Murray said, "the L.A. game where we couldn't score any goals and we were pressing very hard. To get a few goals and to win a hockey game, now we can go home off the road trip. We play division people, and it shouldn't be very hard to get up for the games and play much better."
Daniel Alfredsson, who leads the Senators with 37 goals and 79 points, missed his third straight game Saturday because of a back injury and sat out practice on Monday.
"I'll probably try to skate tomorrow and we'll go from there," he said. "It's doubtful as it goes right now. We'll see."
The Bruins lost for the fourth time in five games on Sunday, falling 1-0 in a shootout to the New York Rangers. Alex Auld stopped 35 shots, but allowed New York's Nigel Dawes to score the lone shootout goal.
"It was a hard-fought game," Auld said. "It would've been nice to come out ahead of them, but it was a big point for us, too.
"It's playoff time and that's the way it is. Every point is so crucial. Everyone is battling so hard, and teams are getting to the point where they're really limiting mistakes. We're right along with that."
Chara did not make the trip to New York because of an undisclosed injury, and coach Claude Julien said he was day-to-day.
by: Staff Writers - Email Us
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