Low-scoring Sens face off with high-scoring Flyers
PHILADELPHIA — If the Ottawa Senators are looking to infuse some goal-scoring into their anemic offense, they are coming to the right place.
The Senators, who rank 27th in the NHL with an average of just 2.20 goals per game, visit the Philadelphia Flyers, who rank last in the NHL in goals allowed per game (3.63), on Tuesday night.
The Senators' 9-5-1 record may be proof that playing good defense is more important than scoring goals. The Flyers (7-7-2) are tied for third in the NHL in goals per game (3.31).
Senators captain Erik Karlsson, who leads the team with 13 points, said he and his teammates need to find a way to fight through their offensive struggles. Ottawa has gone nine consecutive games scoring two or fewer goals.
“It's tight right now,” Karlsson said. “It's a stretch that we're going through, and we're going to have to find a way to get through that. It's tough for our offensive players, myself included. But we're all professionals. We'll find a way eventually. The sooner the better.”
Despite their offensive woes, Ottawa has picked up points in three straight games (2-0-1) and is coming off a 2-1 overtime loss to the Minnesota Wild on Sunday.
Craig Anderson (7-3-1, 2.15 goals-against average, .934 save percentage) has been solid between the pipes for the Senators, and Andrew Hammond is back healthy after an injury. With backup Mike Condon also in the fold, Hammond could be sent to the AHL for a short conditioning stint.
The Flyers, meanwhile, are dealing with some goaltending woes. Michal Neuvirth (4-2-0, 3.54 GAA, .859 SP) will be sidelined four to six weeks with a lower-body injury sustained in the Flyers' 3-2 win over the Wild on Saturday night.
Steve Mason (3-5-2, 3.41 GAA, .880) has struggled through most of this season, though he stopped 19 of 20 shots in relief of Neuvirth on Saturday to earn the win.
“I hope it continues to boost his confidence,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said of Mason. “But Mase has nothing to be embarrassed about. He shows up and he battles hard every day. Things might not have gone as well as he would have liked early on, but that's the game. When one part of the team isn't going great, every other part has to pick that piece up a little bit.”
With Neuvirth sidelined, the Flyers recalled rookie Anthony Stolarz from AHL Lehigh Valley, but look for Mason to make at least the next three starts. Philadelphia is in the midst of a four-game homestand that continues with games Thursday night against the Winnipeg Jets and Saturday afternoon against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Stolarz, a second-round pick of the Flyers in 2012, could make his first NHL start next week in Florida when the Flyers play back-to-back nights against the Panthers and Lightning. He is 6-2-0 this season with the AHL Phantoms.
Flyers leading goal scorer Wayne Simmonds (eight goals) took a maintenance day Monday but is expected to be back on the top line against the Senators.
Ottawa defenseman Marc Methot, who left the Sunday night game with a lower-body injury, practiced Monday and is expected to play.