The Ottawa Senators, who were one goal from making the Stanley Cup final last season, continue to fade farther from playoff position and it doesn’t get any easier when the Columbus Blue Jackets pay a visit Friday. The Senators have lost four in a row (0-3-1) and nine of the past 11 games (2-7-2) after dropping a 5-1 decision at Boston on Wednesday despite allowing only 23 shots.
“It’s just problems after problems that keep mounting up. We’re in a pretty tough situation right now,” Ottawa center Nate Thompson told reporters. “I don’t think there’s any grey areas here. I think it’s black and white. I think we have to play a certain way and do it throughout the whole game. We don’t have the luxury right now of taking minutes off during a game because when we do that, it ends up in our net.” While the Senators sit four points above the cellar in the Eastern Conference, Columbus is two points from first place in the Metropolitan Division. The Blue Jackets own points in four straight games (2-0-2), but coughed up a two-goal lead in the final six minutes and lost 5-4 in a shootout at Pittsburgh on Wednesday. “We played well enough to win (Wednesday),” Columbus coach John Tortorella told reporters. “But we did not make the final plays of the game.”
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN Ohio (Columbus), RDS, TSN5 (Ottawa)
ABOUT THE BLUE JACKETS (22-13-3): Artemi Panarin scored twice Wednesday and boasts five points (three goals) in the last three games while rookie forward Pierre-Luc Dubois continues to produce with four points in his past four contests. Defenseman Seth Jones, who went 11 games without a point from Nov. 7-Dec. 1, owns three goals and three assists during a five-game point streak. Zach Werenski (undisclosed), who leads all NHL defensemen with 10 goals, has been skating and could return to the lineup soon after missing the last four contests.
ABOUT THE SENATORS (11-16-8): Ottawa was 10th in the league in goals against per game last season (2.56) and has dropped to 28th in 2017-18 through Wednesday at 3.26 after allowing 35 in its last nine losses. Right wing Mark Stone, who has a team-best 32 points, boasts seven assists in his last seven games but has not registered a goal in 12 contests while Mike Hoffman (24 points) has not scored in his past 11 outings. Defenseman Fredrik Claesson (two points, 31 games) was suspended two games for his illegal check to the head of Boston’s Noel Acciari on Wednesday.
1. Ottawa G Mike Condon (2-4-4, .909 save percentage), who has lost four straight, is expected to be in net Friday.
2. Columbus G Sergei Bobrovsky, who is 5-4-1 all-time versus the Senators, needs one victory to reach 200 in his career.
3. The Blue Jackets defeated Ottawa 5-2 at home Nov. 24, scoring three unanswered goals in the third period.
PREDICTION: Blue Jackets 4, Senators 2