The Ottawa Senators must change their fortunes on the road to climb back into the playoff race and face a difficult test with a three-game trip, which begins against the NHL-best Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday. The Senators took two of their last three at home, but have dropped nine of their last 10 contests on the road (1-8-1) to fall 10 points out of a playoff spot.
Ottawa led 3-1 midway through Wednesday’s contest against Minnesota, but gave up five straight goals to end its two-game winning streak with a 6-4 setback. “We can’t be giving up two-goal leads, especially at home,” Senators forward Mike Hoffman told reporters. “Obviously, you can look at the game and say it might have been this, it might have been that, but at the end of the day we’ve got to do a better job of closing games out.” Tampa Bay saw its seven-game winning streak come to an end Tuesday after giving up a fourth power-play goal with 2.3 seconds remaining in a 4-3 loss at Vegas and captain Steven Stamkos told reporters, “just a crappy way to lose a hockey game.” Right wing Nikita Kucherov recorded a pair of assists in the loss and boasts eight points (four goals) during a five-game point streak to lead the NHL with 48 for the Lightning, who open a four-game homestand.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, RDS, TSN5 (Ottawa), FSN Sun (Tampa Bay)
ABOUT THE SENATORS (11-14-7): Ottawa allowed two total goals in its first winning streak in more than a month against the New York Rangers and Montreal last week, but has allowed 31 in the other seven contests this month. Right wing Mark Stone has posted five assists in the last four games to lead the team with 30 points - six more than Hoffman, who has been held without a goal in eight straight contests. Former two-time Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson scored a pair of goals against Minnesota to push his season total to three.
ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (24-7-2): Tampa Bay has allowed six power-play goals in two games since right wing Ryan Callahan, the top penalty-killing forward, went down with an upper-body injury but that wasn’t the only issue Tuesday. “When you give a team four power-play goals, it’s tough to get those points,” coach Jon Cooper told reporters. “We just missed assignments. Our penalty kill, up until the last couple games, has been pretty darn good.” Defenseman Victor Hedman stepped up offensively of late, registering two goals and five assists in the last four games.
1. Tampa Bay F Tyler Johnson and D Jake Dotchin each missed Tuesday’s game because of the flu, which has been going around the team.
2. Ottawa recalled 20-year-old F Filip Chlapik on Wednesday. He had one assist in his lone NHL game Oct. 26.
3. The Lightning have won six of the last eight meetings, but the Senators won one of two at Tampa Bay last season.
PREDICTION: Lightning 5, Senators 2