The Ottawa Senators could get a huge boost, after suffering a disappointing result in their season opener, when they welcome the Detroit Red Wings for an Atlantic Division matchup Saturday night. Two-time Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson is close to returning to the lineup for the Senators, who coughed up two third-period leads and went 0-for-5 on the power play in a 5-4 shootout loss to Washington on Thursday.
Karlsson is recovering from offseason foot surgery after leading Ottawa within one goal of reaching the Stanley Cup finals and registering one of his best campaigns with 17 goals, 54 assists and a plus-10 rating in the regular season before putting up 18 points in 19 playoff games. The Red Wings would rather not see Karlsson make his season debut and get their own standout defenseman Niklas Kronwall (groin) back in the lineup after he missed Thursday’s opener. Detroit opened its shiny new Little Caesars Arena with 4-2 victory over Minnesota while winning the special teams battle, getting four assists from defenseman Mike Green and enjoying a strong performance from goaltender Jimmy Howard for his 200th career win. “Confidence is a huge thing,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill told reporters. “It’s one game, a couple goals, but every little ounce of confidence you get helps you as a hockey team.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FSN Detroit, Sportsnet 1 (Ottawa)
ABOUT THE RED WINGS (1-0-0): The young line of Martin Frk, Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha made quite an impression in the opener while combining to record three goals and three assists. Frk, who made two appearances with Carolina last season after being lost on waivers by Detroit, returned to the Red Wings organization later in the campaign and put up 50 points in 65 games for Grand Rapids of the AHL before making it back to the NHL on Thursday. The Red Wings, who finished 27th in the league on the power play last season, converted two of their five chances (one on a 5-on-3) with the man advantage in the opener and killed off all four of Minnesota’s opportunities.
ABOUT THE SENATORS (0-0-1): Detroit will have to contain the line of Bobby Ryan, Derick Brassard and Mark Stone after the trio had seven points combined in their opener with each posting a plus-4 rating. Kyle Turris skated between Zach Smith and Ryan Dzingel on the other top line at Friday’s practice reportedly while 19-year-old center Logan Brown made his debut Thursday, but is expected to give way to 18-year-old forward Alex Formenton on Saturday. Karlsson would add to a defense corps that lost his partner Mark Methot but still features Cody Ceci, Dion Phaneuf and Johnny Oduya (799 career games), who left Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury and is questionable.
1. Detroit C Henrik Zetterberg had the game-winning goal Thursday and is one power-play tally from 100 for his career.
2. Ottawa F Alex Burrows is one goal from 200 for his career and Detroit F Tomas Tatar needs one tally to reach 100.
3. The Red Wings had a seven-game point streak (6-0-1) against the Senators snapped with a 2-0 loss April 4 in the last meeting.
PREDICTION: Senators 4, Red Wings 2