Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson has identified better home performances as a key to the Senators climbing into playoff contention.
After an impressive win on home ice their last time out, another could be on the way with the last-place Carolina Hurricanes heading to Ottawa Saturday night to complete a back-to-back set.
The Senators (18-17-8) haven’t won back-to-back home games in over two months, going 5-5-2 since a 4-0-2 start at Canadian Tire Centre.
"We’ve got to take care of business at home," Anderson said. "The teams that are in the playoffs right now have got really good home records. For us, we’ve got to win some games and put some pressure on the teams in front of us."
Thursday’s 4-1 victory over Montreal fit that description with the Senators in tune offensively. They’ve managed 13 goals over a 2-1-0 span with 10 different players scoring.
Only Edmonton and New Jersey have fewer home wins than the Senators, who are 9-5-4 in their own building. Montreal, like Carolina will be, was playing the second of a back-to-back. Ottawa took a 2-1 first-period lead and is outscoring opponents 7-3 in the first over the last three games.
"It felt like we had more energy coming out from the start here and we never let off the gas," defenseman Erik Karlsson told the team’s official website. "I think for the first time in a while we played three periods really well. It gave us the win."
Anderson stopped 25 shots and has allowed three goals just twice in 10 starts, going 6-2-2 with a 1.78 goals-against average in that time. Anderson has a 1.88 GAA over a 4-2-2 stretch against Carolina.
Should Anderson get the start, he’ll face Anton Khudobin. Cam Ward started in Friday’s 3-0 home loss to Vancouver, but Khudobin replaced him after two periods.
Khudobin got off to a terrible start this season, going winless over his first 10 starts with a 3.11 GAA through his first nine. He’s won his last three, all in shootouts, and is 3-1-0 with a 1.10 GAA in his last five appearances. He’s also won his four career games against Ottawa with a 1.75 GAA and .952 save percentage.
The shutout suffered at the hands of the Canucks ended a 2-0-1 stretch on which the Hurricanes (14-25-4) had shown some offensive aptitude with 11 goals. For the season, though, their 2.00 goals per game rank ahead of only Buffalo, and they’ve averaged a league-low 1.60 in their last 20 contests.
Coach Bill Peters was complimentary of Canucks goalie Ryan Miller, but also critical of his own offense, which has a league-low 6.75 shooting percentage.
"You’ve got to tip your hat to him, but I think we could have made it quite a bit harder," Peters said.
On a positive note, the Carolina penalty kill was 2 for 2 and is 30 for 30 over the past 12 games. Ottawa was 0 for 4 on the power play against Montreal but is 4 for 12 (33.3 percent) over three games.
Carolina won two of three in last season’s series, giving it victories in six of the last eight meetings while limiting the Senators to 12 goals.
Eric Staal has four goals and three assists in his last six games in the series.