Senators-Hurricanes Preview

The Ottawa Senators may be dealing with a lot of injuries, but
it isn’t slowing down their offense.

Red-hot Daniel Alfredsson will try for career goal No. 400 when
the surging Senators visit the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday
night.

Ottawa has scored 14 goals in winning its last three games – all
at home. The Senators (17-14-4) held on for a 4-3 overtime win over
Florida on Thursday after giving up the tying goal with 1:12
remaining in regulation. Bobby Butler scored the winner 2:02 into
the extra period.

Ottawa had seven players record at least one point. Alfredsson
had three, including his 399th career regular-season goal – his
third in four games to go along with six assists.

“I think healthwise I feel like I’m skating and getting up and
down the ice at the rate I’d like to,” said Alfredsson, who missed
five games in November with a concussion.

The Senators’ offense could be even more potent with the
impending return of Milan Michalek, who has a team-leading 19
goals. He hasn’t played since Dec. 13 when he collided with
teammate Erik Karlsson and suffered a concussion, but is hoping to
return next week.

“I’ve had good days, three or four in a row … but you never
know how it’s going to be with a concussion,” Michalek told the
Senators’ official website earlier this week.

Meanwhile, center Jesse Winchester missed Thursday’s game after
suffering a concussion in Tuesday’s win over Buffalo. Fellow center
Peter Regin suffered a shoulder injury in that victory and is out
as well.

Ottawa is hoping it can withstand those absences as it goes for
its third straight victory over Carolina (10-19-6). The Senators
defeated the Hurricanes 4-3 on Nov. 27 following a 3-2 shootout
victory at home Oct. 25.

Struggling Carolina fell to 2-8-3 in its last 13 games after
blowing a 3-1 lead in a 4-3 loss to Phoenix on Wednesday.

Three nights earlier, the Hurricanes coughed up a 2-1 lead
against Florida in an overtime loss.

“What we have to learn is to be more resilient,” said coach Kirk
Muller, who is 2-6-0 since taking over. “We got that third goal
(Wednesday) and I thought we were in good shape. When they got that
second goal and you can see our body language and the team dropped
its energy.

“That’s what we’ve got to get away from. We still had the lead,
so I thought we were still in good shape.”

Cam Ward, who has started all but two of the last 13 games, has
posted a 3.60 goals-against average and an .879 save percentage
during that stretch. He faced only 19 shots Wednesday, but gave up
two goals on five shots in the third period.

If Ward starts again Friday, he’ll look to improve on a 5-1-1
home record against the Senators. He has a 1.48 GAA during the last
six of those starts after making 28 saves in the October shootout
loss.

A visit from Ottawa could also provide a much-needed boost to
Eric Staal, who has six goals and eight assists in the last 10
meetings.

Staal’s miserable season continued Wednesday as he was held
without a point for a third straight game while finishing with a
minus-3 rating.

“I’ve got to be the best player on the ice on a night like
tonight, and I wasn’t,” said Staal, who has an NHL-worst minus-21
mark.

Carolina has lost six of seven at home, though it’s 7-0-1 in its
last eight versus Ottawa in Raleigh.